Monthly Archives: September 2017

The last day of September

On the last day of September, I stood on my deck and looked into the little stand of trees in the flood plain behind my back yard. Though fall is officially here as of the 22nd, neither my garden nor the woods have given it much heed yet. Still, there’s some yellow among the green. The temperatures have finally dropped seasonably in the 70s for daytime highs and the harvest is well underway.

My jalapeno, bell pepper, and tomato plants are all heavy with fruit that’s not quite there yet. I’ve never had so good a harvest of either jalapenos or bell peppers. Doctor Roommate has been taking the jalapenos in to work to share with anyone who will take them and handed off a load of tomatoes to her mom yesterday.

We had plenty more today to put into a batch of Eggplant Parmesean. Parm’s a lot of work, but between the leftovers from dinner tonight and the potential leftovers from tomorrow’s planned game night dinner, we should be set for lunches to take for the week. If not, we got to Aldi today to restock the pantry and the fridge with staples, so I’m set for what we like to call “punt meals.”

Punt Meals: Quick meals off the plan for the week made with items already in the pantry, either because the planned meal no longer sounds good, we’re missing a vital ingredient for the meal, or because the shifting demands of the week require giving up the preparation time of the planned meal for something quicker.

Dr. R: Why are we having Red Beans and Rice for dinner tonight?

Me: We’re out of both tahini and peanut butter so I can’t make Dan Dan Noodles. I punted.

I like predictability. I plan meals not just so I can try to take advantage of sales items at the store, but so that I know what I can expect to eat during the week.

I like the changing rhythm of the seasons. The chaos of planting in the spring. The whirlwind of events in summer. The race to the end of harvest in autumn, even if every tomato in the garden decides to ripen at the same time. Actually, I’d prefer that; then I would know for certain that I’d have enough tomatoes ripe at one time to put them up for the winter. The long, deep breath of winter as the land rests before it all begins again in spring. Each year the particulars are different but the shape of the season is the same.

I know the secret of adulthood: It’s that we’re all faking it. We’re all making it up as we go. It’s the rhythm and cycles that keep our lives from flying off the rails.

It’s the last day of September. Tomorrow begins the final quarter of the year.

Two days. Ten things.

Thursday

Had some trouble with strangeness with the Belly Sucker 9000. Finally found the right spot to tape on my belly to fix it.Went for my return to work appointment. Almost got smeared by traffic on my way down to Iowa City.

Approved to return to work. No restrictions. There’s some little bit of internal healing to do (so the playground is still closed), but everything else seems to be doing well, including the part of the incision that isn’t closed.

Realized I forgot my wallet at home and that I need to replace my emergency $20, so Doctor Roommate had to drive 35 miles to rescue me.

Spotted a little because of the exam. Everything’s closed and together, but not everything is done healing over. It was annoying because I don’t have any feminine supplies anymore – something about not having a uterus. Nothing like sitting and bleeding while you wait for your white knight to show up. (Dame Dr. Roommate? Is that too much? Dr. Mrs. The Monarch?)

Tried Creamy Pulled Pork Pasta with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, and Arugula Subbed spinach for arugula. Tasty.

Friday

ChangedĀ the bandage on Belly Sucker 9000. I’ve healed a full centimeter out of the bottom of the wound, the tunnel in it is closed, and the overall wound is smaller. Wound care doctor says I’m healing well. No restrictions on return to work from this side, either.

Tape for the Belly Sucker 9000 is blistering my skin. We’ve been doing things to try to protect my skin, but now we’re doing some new things to try to help protect my skin even more. I have my mom’s skin where tape is concerned.

New haircut. Pictures to follow as soon as I can get some help. I selfie poorly.

Took time to seeĀ Dale Chihuly: Venetians from the George R. Stroemple Collection before it left the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library here in town. If the exhibit comes near you, I recommend seeing it. It’s positively breathtaking.

Tonight, Doctor Roommate is running the Glo Run. She’s been told to channel her inner child’s Rainbow Brite. Doctor Roommate’s inner child killed Rainbow Brite years ago, that’s probably not really going to be a thing. I’m planning to wear my Fire Water Earth Paisley Leggings to make up for it.

And the suction continues

Not much to update here at the moment. I’ve had the Belly Sucker 9000 dressing changed three times now. Friday the Wound Care Doctor evaluates my progress and lets me know if we can continue this for another week.

Tomorrow (Thursday) I go back to my surgeon for evaluation to return to work. That appointment isn’t until late in the day.

Beyond that, I’m still struggling with fatigue and low apetite. I’ve run about halfway through my prescribed course of iron suppliments, so it’s not unexpected. I’m just crashing late in the afternoon/early in the evening – sometimes without much warning at all. (Hence crashing.)

I’m excited to read Alice Hoffman’s prequel to Practical Magic, The Rules of Magic. I enjoyed both the movie and the book Practical Magic, so I have high hopes for The Rules of Magic, since it follows the aunts from Practical Magic. I have added it to my Amazon Wish List at this point.

Officially, the rule at Skhoot Studio states no buying self gifts from October 1 until the end of the year, but I tend to start putting items on the list in September so I don’t forget them if I intended to save up for them. Sometimes that translates into things showing up as gifts during the holiday season. Sometimes, I have rewards for goal reaching after the New Year.

Belly, now with more suction

I had my first appointment with the Healing Center here in town today. They re-evaluated my surgical wound and confirmed that we could start using the Wound Vac right away. I like the Healing Center Doctor that’s in charge of my case and the nurses at the healing center seem knowledgeable and kind, both good qualities in the nursing profession.
We had a student nurse in, too. She had never gotten to see a Wound Vac before, so once again I got to help someone learn something new. That’s always a bonus.
The Wound Vac makes a soft sucking sound. Occasionally it does several of them in rapid succession. It’s no worse than if Sully were grooming and trying to use his non-existent grooming teeth. He lost them to a gum infection he had when he first came to live with us, but he still seems to get the job done. It’s just a soft slurpy sound in the background sometimes.
Mostly, though, I’m dry. I like being dry. I haven’t been dry since August 15. First, it was normal postsurgical drainage. Then it was abnormal postsurgical drainage. Then the gauze bandages soaked in antiseptic didn’t help with the whole wet and still wet feeling.
I could get used to being dry. Hopefully everything will continue on the path indicated by this auspicious start.

Boxes too heavy to lift

I’m on a 10 pound weight restriction. The Belly Sucker 9000 came in a 28 lb package that contained the suck unit and all the supplies needed to bandage for the next 30 days. I made Doctor Roommate carry it up the stairs for me.

After unpacking all the things, I won’t need to figure out how to bring all of it with me to my wound care appointment tmorrow, so that helps.

Still, I have to wonder if the people who pack and ship such things understand that they’re shipping them to people who probably aren’t allowed to pick them up.

Belly Sucker 9000

I got word today that my insurance approved the new wound therapy that my doctor (and the consulting wound care nurse) think will be beneficial. It’s called a Wound Vac (or negative pressure wound therapy) and helps a variety of different wounds heal more quickly. It’s supposed to work especially well on abdominal incisions that reopen (like mine) so I’m very hopeful that this will get me the rest of the way healed up quickly.

We’re calling it the Belly Sucker 9000, because at this point we’ve gone just a little around the bend taking care of something that looks like a raw meat hole straight into darkness where it should just be my belly. Doctor Roommate has taken to singing songs about how professional and awesome her wound packing is. Lyrics include things like:

I’m a professional belly stuffer.

Nobody stuffs bellehs better than me.

Yesterday she declared that I need to get a stop watch and time her while she packs my wound. You know, so there’s a baseline for Sabie Stuffing that can be competed against and improved upon.

I drew a hard line. No wound packing time trials with actual Sabie Belly. While it doesn’t hurt, it feels weird as hell and timing triage is JUST WRONG unless you’re part of actual war games.

Technically, this isn’t triage anymore, but the alleteration appealed to me.

Tomorrow is our last day of wound packing at home. The Belly Sucker 9000 arrives tomorrow and then I go to the Healing Center at Mercy Hospital for a wound care nurse there to apply the first wound vac bandage on Thursday. After that, they’re changed three times a week by a professional trained in wound vac therapy, so neither Doctor Roommate or I have to stare into the wound abyss anymore looking for necrotic tissue or infection.

Yay! So. Much. Yay!

Belly update – the waiting

Today I went to the doctor for another follow-up on The Surgical Incision That Didn’t Close/Reopened. This time a Wound Care Nurse (that’s a real specialty) consulted in and she agreed that healing has progressed enough to move to the next stage of wound care.

The next stage of wound care involves paperwork. There’s a therapy we’d like to move to which is very successful in cases like mine, but it requires approval from the insurance company. We’re waiting for the answer from them.

Until the answer comes back, we’re continuing with the same course: packing and changing bandages twice a day. Once I’m out of the antiseptic, I can move to wetting the packing material with sterile saline solution. If I don’t get approved for the new wound care therapy, this will be my life for the forseeable future.

In the words of Inigo Montoya, “I hate waiting.” Hopefully I’ll have some answers back tomorrow or Wednesday.

Sunday Thoughts – 20170917

  • I like bean dishes. You can cook them in the crockpot. They taste even better over the next few days, so they make great leftovers for cook ahead lunches. This week’s bean dish was a spicy baked bean pot with chorizo, bacon, onions, green peppers, and two jalapenos from the garden. It will be yummy for lunches this week.
  • The garden has been slower to start this year than usual, but it’s set to go crazy within the next two weeks. We picked tomatoes, eggplant, jalapenos, and the first real green peppers I’ve ever gotten from the garden. The green peppers that are big enough to make stuffed green peppers. I’m planning to stuff them and put them in the freezer tomorrow or Tuesday (depending on my energy level and how long things take at the doctor.
  • I have another appointment on Monday for wound care follow up. I’m hoping that we can finally move to the next stage of care, which I think is saline solution and repacking once a day. The wound care nurse is supposed to be at this appointment, so I’ll learn more then.
  • My endurance is still very uneven from surgery. I’m trying to wean myself off my afternoon nap, but I’m still finding it necessary, which throws off my ability to go straight to sleep at night. I’m writing this on the Sunday side of midnight and I feel very awake. After I finish writing, I’m going to put on Thunderstorm white noise from my tablet, and see if that works to get me to sleep.
  • I miss the way work structures a week. I hope that my return to work appointment in just under two weeks goes well even with my open wound.

Three friends try a triathlon – I watch

Team Splash Flash Dash was briefly in the lead of their heat.

My big activity today was watching The Taming of the Slough, a triathlon event for Kayak, Mountain Bike, and Trail running. Doctor Roommate and two friends made up Team Splash Flash Dash. Splash was the kayaker. Flash was mountain biker (aka:Doctor Roommate). Dash ran the final leg.

They came in second in the three-person women’s teams, which is awesome. They’d never done this before. They came in second among the women’s three-person teams even though Doctor Roommate should have had the codename Crash instead of Flash. (Doctor Roommate has no serious injuries. Just some bruises, a bit of road rash, and she will be replacing her helmet since it took one for the team.)

Spectator this event was one of the most active things I’ve done since my surgery. There was plenty of walking around the park to find a place to settle and knit while waiting for the kayaks to come in and then lots of walking around to cheer people on as friends and new acquaintances came into the relay points.

Also, I made two new doggiefriends. Lincoln was a four-month old labradoodle who looked like my Sophie-doodle-ee-doo when she was that age. He was friendly and still all puppy mouth.

At the other end of the doggo spectrum was Craig the piddy boy, an extremely mellow, beautiful yellow and white piddy, who struck me as the second friendliest and calmest piddy I’ve ever met. The winner for breed (IMO) was a piddy girl named Swee’pea, owned by my friend Worm. Craig the piddy was a close second, though. Craig did the Sophie-dog patented nose nudge under the hand and I spent a good part of the award ceremony giving love to a piddypuddy because Sophie’s taught me that nose nudge means doggo needs love now because doggo is about to die.

While the race itself wasn’t exactly my thing to try for myself, it reminded me how much I miss being able to bike or kayak or take quick steps in succession without being yelled at. Currently I’m allowed to walk and lift nothing heavier than a milk jug. I’m also not allowed to get wet in any kind of submersive fashion.

Showering is okay. Bathing is not. Doing something where I have the potential to go swimming in current is RIGHT OUTTM.

All this before 10:30 AM. Satisfied napping happened all around once we got home. All in all, it was a pretty great way to spend a day.

Belly update – slowly improving

We removed the last bits of the necrotic tissue today. My medical team is impressed with AJ’s skill in packing wounds. I’m so lucky to have her. I return to the doctor on Monday for re-evaluation. Hopefully we can move to packing with saline solution and a wound care nurse to help get things closed back up.

For what it’s worth, everything looks pretty much normal and pink now and Dr. Roommate is no longer making icky-poo-poo face when she’s packing it.

Please, let it stay normal and keep healing so we can move forward on Monday.

I should be more positive about the progress, but I’m very tired of being The Walking Wounded. The wet/dry pack that we’re doing means that I’m always just a little damp. Imagine having spilled just a little on your jeans so you feel marginally clammy, but it’s not enough to go get paper towels to dry it off – it needs to just air dry. Now imagine that it never quite dries, because you’re always spilling just a little on your jeans, so it never dries. The cover dressing helps absorb some of the liquid (read: the solution we soak the packing gauze in), but it’s not enough.

My skin around the wound is covered in tape burns despite our best efforts to minimize it. My goal is now “just make it stick.” If we tear up my skin more, that’ll heal more easily than the surgical wound.

If ever there was a thing to make a person feel like they’re being punished for the sin of glutony, this is it. I have seen my fat. I know that if I were thin, this wound would not be nearly so bad. Fatness didn’t cause this, but it sure as hell doesn’t help it.

I want to cry from shame every time I look into the wound to assess it’s progress.

When I’m healed, there will be lasting lifestyle changes. Body positivity is all well and good, but there is something to be said for being the most healthy I can be, too. I don’t believe my body weight is as healthy as it could be. I just want to be a better me, whatever that turns out to be.

Right now, I’m doing what I’m medically allowed: going for walks and making the most healthy meal choices I can make.

The good news (can we call it that?) is that my old appetite hasn’t come back. I don’t feel hungry nearly as often as I did before the hysterectomy and I find myself satiated with smaller portions. I’ve also found it much easier to avoid soda in general. Once a week, on game night, I indulge in a 12oz ginger beer, but I don’t really want anything like that any other time.

The bad news is that I’m having to learn to plan meals around what I now am willing to eat portionwise. That’s proving something of a challenge. How do I get enough nutrients in the volume of food that I’m willing to consume? I’ve started scouring the internet for new recipes. EatingWell.com has become something of a new favorite. Everything I’ve tried from there works, is nutritionally balanced, and tastes good.