Sunday, August 28, 2011

Well, at least I won't have to do that again

It all started with me saying to myself "Gor, my back hurts."  during class on Wednesday.  I thought it was aches from sitting on a folding chair for three days.  Then my tummy got upset, which I chalked up to the room being hot and the fact that my uniform is made of polyester.

But, I did very well in class that day, getting myself some bonus points on an oral pop quiz and getting several right answers.

When class was finally over I got out of my uniform jacket and started on home.  As I was driving I got a horrid pain up under my ribs that had me bent as close to double as I could get behind the wheel.  Once I was home I laid in bed, hurting and crying.  I threw up a few times, didn't feel any better.  I felt worse.

I was able to cripple myself up to school to pick up the kids and told them I needed them to entertain themselves since I didn't feel good.  And I have to say, I could not have asked them to be any better.  They got themselves snacks, took care of each other, came and checked on me and I was able to talk Zoe through making dinner for herself and her brother.

Meanwhile, I was texting with Scott, telling him what was happening.  Of course, it was a day he'd gotten a ride to work, thinking I'd come pick him up.  That wasn't going to be happening.  I was going to be either lying in bed or lying on the floor.

After I'd been doing this for five hours I decided I needed to go to urgent care.  My excellent friend Chris agreed to come over and watch my kids.  She ended up staying until one in the morning.

Urgent Care saw me quickly, just to say that I needed to go to the emergency room, it was probably my gallbladder.  What?  I've never had any of issues with my gallbladder or any of my internal organs for that matter.  I'm really healthy!  My family has a history of being healthy.  As I put it, they go and go and go and go and go aaaaaaaaand drop dead.  What the hell do you mean my GALLBLADDER?

I went home, told Chris what was going on and waited for Scott to get home, which happened about 15 minutes later.  He loaded me up in the car and took me to the hospital.

On the way I was doubled over.  This was worse than labor.  Labor felt......labor felt right, like it was part of the process.  This felt very, very wrong.  Something had gone wrong with my body and I was pissed about it.

First fucking week of school. Scott's motorcycle back in the shop with the bubbas who couldn't figure out how to use the goddamn telephone to tell us what was going on with it.  I'd called them the week before after waiting four days for them to say they'd even looked at to tell them if they didn't call me the next day to tell us if they were going to check it out or not I was going to take it somewhere else.  I was supposed to babysit for Chris and Sam the next day.  I'd planned to spend Friday cleaning and doing laundry since the place was filthy.  I had shit to do!  This was not, I say not, okay.

We got into the ER, I got checked in and told that they'd be happy to see me but there was a long wait.  Huh?  It was Wednesday!  Emergency rooms are busy on Friday and Saturday nights.  While we waited for a very, very long time I laid down on a padded bench and put my head on Scott's leg.  I was freezing cold and got a blanket from the triage nurse.  I covered up and dealt with the pain as best I could.  This involved closing my eyes tight and taking deep breaths.

Finally, finally I was taken back to be looked at.  I waited a while more, got checked out by an RN, then a doctor who prescribed me some Dilaudid.  I got an IV with a bag of fluids and the painkiller was put through my IV.

When it kicked in I said "Whooooaaaaaa".  I still had an ache, but I wasn't doubled over anymore, crying and wondering what was going on .  So, in my Dilaudid haze I was taken to get an ultrasound of my upper abdomen.  The ultrasound room is the same one they use for expectant moms so there are all these cheerful posters of smiling pregnant women holding their swollen bellies.  That was a little surreal, to be looking at those while the technician did her best to not hurt me while she checked out my insides.

I went back to my curtained cubicle where I zoned out some more before I was informed that it was indeed my gallbladder, admitted I was going to be!  I got to have surgery!  Wheeeeeee!

The really great male RN who had been taking care of me let me know that they wanted to get me upstairs because the riff-raff was going to be coming in.  I heard a man was going to be arriving who was suffering from chest pain after being tased.  The nurses were putting in dibs on who got to be assigned to him.

Upstairs I was transferred!  More painkiller I got!  To sleep I went! Then I waited for the surgeon to come talk to me in the morning.  A very nice man who explained to me that the best plan of action would be to take my rebellious organ out.  When I was in labor with Will and talking with the OB about whether to try for a VBAC or have a c-section, he said the question we didn't ask was "If you were my wife what would I recommend?".  I've used this as a guide since then.

I asked the surgeon if I was his life partner, what would he tell me to do?  Take it out.  Take it out we would!  The surgery suites were all booked, I'd get it done on Friday.  I spent another night in the hospital being fed by IV and getting a whole bunch of fluids along with a pre-surgery course of antibiotics and potassium.  Did you know potassium burns when it goes through an IV into your arm.  I woke up freaking out, crying because it hurt.  The nurse who was taking care of me understood, slowed down that drip and gave me some more Dilaudid.  This allowed me to go back to sleep.

Friday morning Scott came to hang out with me and I begged to take a shower.  I was gross.  I'd been sweating.  I smelled.  My hair was matted.  I hate being that dirty and smelly.  The tech helping me got my IV disconnected and covered up the little catheter going into my vein with part of a rubber glove.  This meant I couldn't bend my right arm, so Scott washed my hair for me.

Turned out my timing was good because someone had come to fetch me for my surgery while I was cleaning up.  After my gallbladder was taking out I wouldn't be able to shower for two days.  I got out, dried off and found that my bed had been changed and I had a clean gown to put on.

A few minutes later I was whisked away to be shuttled downstairs.  As soon as I was out of my room and heading downstairs I started to cry.  I covered my face up with the blanket and cried.  I cried in the room where I was waiting.  I cried while I was wheeled down to the OR.  I cried while they put my little cap on and moved me onto what was possibly the narrowest medical table on the face of the planet.  Then they pushed a painkiller that kicked in right NOW and I don't remember anything, just being back in my room with Scott and my mom's friend Jean who lives in the area.

My mom was on a plane to come help me with recovery.  I was drugged up and had adhesive bandages on four spots where the laparoscopic equipment had been inserted into my abdominal cavity.  My mom arrived very soon after that to take over watching me and Scott went to get the kids from school.

Now I'm going to sound like everyone's Uncle Harold talking about his operation.  The gallbladder stores bile, created in the liver, and pumps it into the stomach as part of the digestive process.  Bile is still fed into the small intestine by the liver, so removing the gallbladder doesn't impede digestion.  It's about the size of your thumb, with a very narrow neck leading to the stomach. It's only a few centimeters wide.   I had a stone in my gallbladder half in inch wide that was trying to force itself out.  Since I had such a blockage, I couldn't keep anything down.  No wonder I was hurting.  Jeez.

No, I didn't get to keep the stone but I do have photos.  I was discharged later on Friday night with a very tender upper abdomen and very, very tired.  Once I arrived at home around 9:30 I burst into tears and was put to bed.

Saturday morning, I felt better.  And, as my mom says, the Graminator took over. She has ruthlessly cleaned out Zoe's room, forced the kids to make choices about toys to keep and toys to toss, went to the grocery store, did dishes and swept up dog hair.  

I have been able to study for exam on Monday and I seem to be quite well prepared.  I've been eating lightly, drinking a lot of water and treating my discomfort with ibuprofen.  Mostly, I'm tender.  But I'm better today than I was yesterday and I imagine I'll be better tomorrow than I am today.

Recovery is supposed to be 2-3 weeks of taking it easy, no heavy lifting, not going to the gym or things like that.  I'm hoping I'll be close to back to normal in a week to ten days.  Until then, it's the recliner and naps for me.

How was your week?

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  When you are feeling poorly, being clean can make you feel better.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Two days down!

So, the Scorching Student Chef has two days under her belt.  Book learning is what we're doing in class, learning about toxins, cross contamination, time-temperature abuse and other practices that will make people sick.  I'm never eating out again!

Did you know there's a kind of toxin in fish that will make you cough up worms?  I know!  Anyway, I'm sitting in the front, the picture of the returning student who is desperate to do well.  I'm the second oldest in the class, the oldest student is another woman.  She and I have bonded over these two factors.  Out of a class of 16, there are 4 women.   Three of us sit in the front row.

This week we are plowing through 14 chapters on safe food handling in 4 days.  I'll have 3 days to review and then our exam is on Monday.  The textbook is written at about the same level as a sophomore or junior level biology textbook.  I'm grasping the information, there's just a lot of it.

And I have GOT to calm down about this.  I did well on today's quizzes, which covered the material we went over on Monday.  I'll go over the material for my quizzes tomorrow and anything I have difficulty with I'll know I need to put that info into my head.

Most of this stuff is common sense, like, oh, when should a person wash their hands?  After returning home, when they have been at work for three hours, after using the restroom.  See?

I am dealing with some insecurity and worry and thinking this was a stupid idea.  That will go away as I get positive feedback.

As of right now, I'm going to give my brain a break and have some home-made bbq chicken pizza.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  When you are worrying, try to remember to relax your jaw every now and then.  It will help keep your face from sticking in an ugly, frowny way.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Oh my god this is really happening!  I am starting at the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts tomorrow!  Among other things, this means I'm going to be shifting from the Hip Housewife to the Scorching Student Chef.  

I have to be up early, my classes start at seven a.m. and my instructor has made it clear that classes START at seven.  Arrival time is not seven, arrival time is not later than six fifty-five.  The acceptable way to address her is "Chef".  Answers are "Yes, chef", "No, chef", very military like.

She also made it clear at orientation that she's not going to let anyone coast, once she sees our comfort zone she's going to push us.  Does this scare me to death?  Oh, hell yes.  This means it's a good thing for me to do.  Fear and discomfort are the path to growth.

And learning to make a great omelette.

Today, the family is getting everyone ready to start school.  I've helped the kids get their clothes put away and make sure they have their backpacks and lunch boxes ready to go.  Scott and I will need to fill out some paperwork for their teachers.

I need to hem my chef pants.  Professional appearance is a portion of my grade, if my hems are too long I'll be marked off.  It's an easy way to keep my grade point average up, to not do it is just laziness on my part.  Since the program is so condensed, attendance is vital.  I miss one day I've missed a full 25% of the lessons for that week.

We won't even start anything in the kitchen until I've completed food service certification.  Then we'll get our tool kits and begin knife skills.  I'm anticipating having cuts on my fingers, but I'm looking forward to getting those improved.

I'm reeling, reeeeeelling with the fact that I've made this happen.  I've been walking around all weekend saying "Whoa!"


Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Whooooooaaaaaaaa

Friday, August 19, 2011

Because this helps my ego

Every once in a while I like to list all the things I did in a day to give myself evidence that I'm smart and capable.

This time, it's about yesterday.

6 a.m.          Wake up to find the house is at 87 degrees as the air conditioning isn't working.

7 a.m.          Go to the grocery store, save $10 with coupons.

8 a.m.          Contact everyone I know via email/Facebook to find an air conditioning repair person.

9 a.m.          Take Scott to work as his motorcycle quit on him on Tuesday.  It was towed to the shop we use so they could check the fuses but no one's looked at it.

10 a.m.        Set kids up with a tub of water and bathing suits to keep them cool.

10:15 a.m.   Call recommended person who turns out to be great, he'll be by in about 90 minutes.

10:30 a.m.   Call motorcycle repair shop to tell them if they can't look at Scott's bike (they need to check                   the fuses) tomorrow they need to call me so I can take it somewhere else.

11  a.m.       Tell kids they can have as many popsicles as they want today.  They start with red and green, before getting out washable paints so they can make the outside of the house less boring.  I tell them it looks like a Pollock painting.  They frown.

11:15 a.m.    Make appointments for Will's tonsillectomy and pre-op office visit.

Noon            Greatest air conditioning repairman ever arrives and assures me that the repair is a cheap one.  He also says he's going to bring me the filters that are 3 times as efficient and only cost four bucks.

12:30 p.m.     While greatest air conditioning repairman ever is off getting parts I supervise the kids making their own lunches.  Then I force them to drink big glasses of water.  After lunch they have more popsicles before going back out front to paint the trees.

1 p.m.            Greatest air conditioning repairman returns with parts, filters and has cold air coming out the vents inside of fifteen minutes.  He and I chat about EST for a while.

2 p.m.             Tell kids everyone must nap.  No, you can't just rest.

3 p.m.             Much better, pick up living room and do dishes.

4 p.m.             Find that the kids have drawn glasses and facial hair on themselves and we are going to go meet their teachers for this school year tonight, tell them to take a shower.

4:30 p.m        Leave to get Scott, sing Taylor Swift's "Love Story" on the way because it's Zoe's new favorite song.  Will falls asleep.

5 p.m             With Scott in the car, head to school.

5:30 p.m.       Take Will to see his Kindergarten classroom where he has a long talk with his teacher about Legos.  Scott stays to fill out forms while I take Zoe to find out who she'll have this year.   In the cafeteria, 2 of Zoe's friends run up to tell her they are all in the same class and they are even at the same table!  The girls jump up and down and scream a little.

5:40 p.m.       Go say hi to Zoe's teacher, fill out emergency contact forms, marvel at how young Zoe's teacher is and tell Zoe I'm glad she's in a classroom with her friends.

5:45 p.m.        Go look for Scott and Will.  Can't find them.  Bump into Zoe's girl scout leader who asks me about schedules and events, I reply in affirmative to all and remind her to send me reminders.

5:55 p.m.         Find Scott and Will back in Zoe's classroom.  Head off for home.

6  p.m.            Scott packs up for a jam and heads off.  I make chicken nuggets for dinner.  Well, not make, microwave.

6:10 p.m.        Realize I forgot to arrange a sitter for the kids for tomorrow morning so that I can attend orientation.  Oops, send out a bunch of emails because I'm too embarrassed to call on the phone.

6:15 p.m. -
7:30 p.m.        Watch a movie with the kids before bedtime.  Read them a story, sing them a song, make sure their rooms are cool enough.

8:15 p.m.         Lay on the couch and wonder why I'm tired.

9 p.m.            Have a nice bath before turning in early.  My excellent friend and neighbor says the kids can hang out with her in the morning.

9:30 p.m.      Call it a full day and turn out the light.

There, now I have a list to look at the next time I'm feeling like I'm not able to get stuff done.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  When faced with heat and stress, hydrate hydrate hydrate!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life, seriously?

The Hip Husband and I got a chance to go out with friends last night to play trivia at our fave place.  Out of 28 teams we came in 7th, we considered that a victory.

Then we got home to discover our air conditioning moving air around but not making it cool.  Oh no.  This is combined with Scott's motorcycle losing electrical power, probably a fuse, day before yesterday.  It's sat around for two days in the shop we had it towed to without being checked.

I have orientation tomorrow.  I start school on Monday.  The kids start school on Tuesday.  We all must sleep.  No AC makes this a challenge.

All this is deal-able.  Scott can catch a ride to work with a friend that lives around the corner and works at the same company.  My classes are from 7 a.m. to noon-thirty, plenty of time to come home, change and pick up the kids.  We can get Scott from work, but this can't go on for too long.

Air conditioners can be repaired.  I know a woman who's husband does AC work.  I'm hoping he'll be able to come help me out.  It means I'm supporting independent business and hopefully he'll cut me a deal.

I can call and speak to the cycle shop, letting them know we've got to have an answer by the end of today so I can plan my life.

The part that I'm really upset about is that I'm going to be too hot and busy taking the kids to places WITH air conditioning I can't get the house ready for me to not be paying attention to it all day.

Scott told the kids this week:  Life as we know it is over.

I don't know why I'm surprised that everything seems to be happening right before a big change.  I'm glad it's stuff that I can deal with easily.  But, I would prefer to not have to play super-woman right before I have to start getting up at 5:30 in the morning.

Everybody think cool thoughts!  Ice cubes.  Popscicles.  Raspberry Mojitos.  Motel rooms.  Casinos.  The ocean at Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz.  The beer fride at HEB Plus.  Cooooool.  Coooool.  Coooooll.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Remember, when your pores open up to perspire, it's also cleaning them out.  Celebrate!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

There is a point here, just bear with me

I have a hair on my chin I'm obsessed with, I've been picking at it all day.  I can't quite yank it out with my fingers, it's too short and the kids have kidnapped my tweezers.

I'm sure they ended up in the couch somewhere because that's where all my grooming hardware that's been taken by my kids ends up.

I've found that this hair is just long enough that if I tug on it just right it curls up like that ribbon you stretch with scissors.  I find this fascinating.

Now that I've hit forty and my hormones are starting to shift around I have hair growing in odd spots on my face.  I found an eyebrow hair in the middle of my forehead last week.  I am not kidding it was an eyebrow hair smack in between my hairline and my eyebrows.

Instead of standing in front of the mirror pulling my face back to see how I'd look with a facelift or using more moisturizer I'm watching for random, voluntary hairs to appear on my face.  It doesn't leave scars and it doesn't cost me anything.

However, even *I* am finding this a little weird.  Standing in front of the mirror looking for hair?  On your face?  Isn't that a little nitpicky?  Or hair-picky?

Here comes the point.

The last week has hammered home the fact that there are so many things I have no control over.  I can control how I respond, what actions I can take, but I can't make things not happen.  My druthers would be to have none of the drama happen.

I can control this little hair on my chin.  I can decide if it stays because no one will see it and I like toying with it.

I can decide what happens with my own body and I choose to control my grooming regime.  Vain?  Yes.  Shallow?  Probably.  Time waster?  Maybe.

It gives me something to focus on besides the chaos going on around me.  Something to think about besides the burn on my leg and if it's getting better.  Something besides the piles of dishes in the sink, the husband who needs to be watched carefully, not because I'm afraid there's going to be a relapse or whatever but because I love him and I'm worried.  It gives me a small vacation from keeping an eye on my kids and encouraging them to get their laundry sorted and put away so we'll be ready for school next week.

Thanks to this weird little hair on my chin I'm able to keep myself together.  Odd? Sure.  I'm taking any port in this storm though, including a wiry sprout on my chinny-chin-chin.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Pointy tweezers are the best for plucking specific hairs.  Make sure you keep them clean.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's been a humdinger of a week around here


The last several days have been, um, let's say exciting.

To start off, Scott and I were able to go to breakfast by ourselves Saturday morning.  I got off the motorcycle on the wrong side and burned my right calf.  A blister about the size of my fist.  Ow. Ow ow ow.  And I wasn't at home, I soaked a napkin in ice water and held it on my leg while trying to decide between pancakes and waffles.

Sunday, Scott had an issue with one of his meds, causing panic attacks, uncontrollable crying, shakes and generally scaring me to death.

I called my friend down the street, crying and asking if she could take the kids while I dealt with the crisis. Once they were safely out of the house I decided I needed assistance and called 911.  My house was invaded by, I think six emergency guys who whipped out all their high tech equipment to figure out what was going on.

I was given the option of having him transported or driving him myself.  I opted to send him in the ambulance.  Then I got in the car and couldn't find the stupid hospital.  I parked and tried looking it up on my phone but couldn't find the right one. Finally, I followed the blue signs with the big H on them.

I told the person at the window I was there but no one came out to call me.  Can I just say that watching Cartoon Network in an ER waiting room is surreal?

I figured out that I needed to ask to go back and found Scott hooked up to all these machines, his heart rate and blood pressure way up.  He got some Ativan via IV which brought him back down to normal levels.

While this is going on texts are flying fast and furious between me and our excellent friend Linda who was as scared as I was.  She came to the hospital, helped me get Scott in the car, got me a sandwich and hung out at my house while I ran for the 'scrip for Ativan we'd been given.

We'd been strongly advised to follow up with his regular doctor on Monday.  Simple, yes?  Oh, no.  The doctor is on vacation this week.  Try finding a physician to take an appointment for a new patient regarding what is considered a mental health issue on the same day.  Yeah, that's not gonna happen.  Let's try Urgent Care.  Nope.  No dice.  I called our doc's office and the very great receptionist got us in with another doctor who could give us a plan for this week.  Now we wait for our regular physician to have an opening to get this all managed.

This made me really miss the Canadian health care system.  Need a doctor?  Come into the clinic.  Need a specialist?  They'll send you there.  Co-pay?  What co-pay?  Of COURSE we can take care of you.  ARGH.

Then, to put a little cherry on top of the whole thing, the CD player in my car stopped working.  I'd just found my favorite Cure album and had been enjoying singing along and now I don't even have that little pleasure.

However, there is ice cream in the freezer, the kids didn't see any of it, he's feeling better and I've managed to tame the laundry monster.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If faced with a crisis, let the whole appearance thing go.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's too hot to think

All we've done here at Casa de 'burbs is try to stay cool in the face of 104 degree heat day after day after day.

This is enough thank you.  I know what it feels like to be hot.  Okay, check.  We get it.

80 degrees at 7:15 in the morning is just insanity.

I bow down before my air conditioner.  I give great and powerful thanks to the cool-causing fluid that it contains.  Whoever invented that stuff deserves a big favor from me.

It's too hot to go outside.  It's too hot to move.  It's too hot to think.  It's too hot to do anything but drink water and stand in front of the fan.

My kids, however, have been jumping on the trampoline.  Or maybe that's a hallucination brought on by dehydration.

Is that palm tree?

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Drink water!  Drink lots and lots of water!

Monday, August 1, 2011

While our family visit was good, part of it was difficult

When I was born, I was lucky to be born into a family with a lot of grandparents.  Two grandpas, two grandmas, two great-grandmas and a great-grandpa, all of whom I spent a lot of time with.  

I still have two grandpas and a grandma.  All of them are in their nineties and have enjoyed good health until the last couple of years.  My mom's dad has had two heart bypasses and a hip replaced twice.  But, he recovered very well from all those procedures and traveled extensively well into his eighties.  My dad's dad is going to be 95 this year.

When I go visit my family on the west coast I always visit my grandparents because I really love them and they love me and the kids.  

However, this trip was different.  My mom's dad and stepmom aren't doing all that great.  My grandma (she's my grandpa's second wife but they've been married since I was seven so she's my grandma.)  had a fall that aggravated an old back injury, causing her a lot of pain and making it hard for her to get around.  While I was there she went for an epidural for her pain. And my grandpa is just getting old.  He's starting to have some memory loss but he's still all there.  But going to visit and only being able to stay for about 40 minutes, because that's really all the time they have energy for, was hard for me.  

My dad's dad has looked elderly for a while but he's never looked old before.  Again, he's still all there, some memory loss but no dementia.  He's living in assisted living where he can be around people and his medications are dispensed instead of leaving it to him to muddle through.

After we visited with my grandparents, all in the same day, I ended up having a big cry in the car.  

Seeing that they are, indeed, aging brings up all kinds of existential thoughts for me.  My children are going to grow up.  I"m going to get older.  My parents are going to get older.  I am going to get a phone call sometime in the next five years (probably) telling me I need to pack a suit and get on a plane.  It's not something I'm hoping for, but it is something I'm preparing myself for.  

Maybe that's morbid, but I know it's coming.  

I tell myself that they've all had a very good run.  No dementia and really very limited health issues are a blessing.  My mom's dad has been in love twice.  They've raised children, bought homes, traveled, had friends and lived very full lives.  When is does eventually end, there will be a true celebration of who they were and what they contributed to all the people they touched.  

It's why I'll be devastated.  Again, maybe I'm being overly morbid. 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Noxema has too much menthol and camphor to be non-irritating, and it tends to clog pores.  Best to stay away from it.