Getting Through Surgery and Beyond
When I was told I needed to undergo a total hysterectomy I had 5 anxious weeks to wait before the actual day of surgery. Thanks to wise guidance from my friends and family I didn't spend that time idly waiting and worrying, instead I took their advice and got busy Getting Back UP.
I decided to control what I could control...and for the rest, well, I would place my trust in the doctors.
The first thing I did towards taking control was to consult my nutritionist and friend, Mona Bostick. She provided me with a detailed plan based upon my current nutrient deficiencies and one that would best prepare my body for the upcoming surgery. For 5 weeks I focused on the nutrient-dense foods she recommended but in addition to that she gave me a tip which later proved to be the best advice I'd ever been given when facing surgery: to prepare and freeze my post-op meals in advance. Using her post-op guidelines--which differed greatly from the pre-Op plan!--I made soups and stews and smoothie "kits" and utilized those weeks by stocking my freezer. Not only did this keep me busy but it actually gave me a sense of empowerment, a belief that I was controlling the outcome of my surgery even 5 weeks in advance of it.
(Note: A few people have asked me for the nutritional guidelines that Mona prepared for me along with the recipes I used for certain meals. In case there are more people out there who may find this info useful I've decided to make it a separate blog entry in partnership with Mona, stay tuned.)
|Pre-Op nutrient-dense foods meant loads of colorful, fresh veggies and a|
variety of lean proteins.
March 24th: Surgery day
My operation was scheduled for 1:30pm which was tough for 2 reasons: 1) I had to spend the morning trying NOT to think about this major procedure I was about to have and 2) I couldn't eat or drink anything all day. I sooooo wanted coffee!!
I spent the biggest part of the morning working but then spent an hour prepping the guest bedroom for my eventual "recovery zone" and packing for my hospital stay. I made sure to pack my inspirational items--cards and gifts from my friends and family--to help motivate me to get better.
|I love the Gypsy Nation! Thank you so much to my running family for your|
generous love and support through all of this.
|I still believe... that I have the best friends ever!|
|Cool chicks and a mad rabbit, courtesy of my Cool Cuz', Sandy.|
My mom and stepdad drove from Chapel Hill to take me to the hospital around lunchtime. Well, lunchtime for them...I still couldn't eat and I was famished, the last time I ate was about 14 hours ago. Mom and Bob did their best to keep the conversation light but my anxiety was building as we approached the hospital. It didn't help much when, upon arrival, I once again had to sign waivers saying that I understood potential risks of this surgery: partial paralysis, bladder/bowel incontinence, pelvic prolapse, death. So much for keeping the mood light.
|Mom got a fancy new bracelet of her own as my official supporter.|
Nice look, Ma, but I think it clashes with your outfit.
|I know I'm in good hands and I'm trying to stay relaxed by joking|
around with my family here. The truth? I was really fighting off tears.
|As with most hospital procedures, there's a lot of waiting around. Apparently|
Dr. Roberts was running a bit late (totally excusable when this involves
saving lives). This was my view from the gurney for about an hour.
As I mentioned, my surgeon today is also my friend. It occurred to me that there may be some conflict regarding the ethics of physicians operating on friends and family so I brought this up in one of our office visits. I really wanted her to do this surgery but I also told her that I would fully support any decision she made. Lucky for me she wanted to operate on me, she's a highly-skilled and well-respected doctor and I didn't want to settle for second-best.
For those of you who know the real me, you know my sense of humor can be twisted (some may say bordering on sick?) But guess what? Many doctors are also known for their twisted humor so in honor of today's occasion I selected the perfect card for Angie. I gave this to her right before they put me under anesthesia, and just before she was to slice me open...
|One last selfie with Dr. Roberts before she gets down to business "stabbing |
me in the front." :-)
3 Hours Later...
It's done! Dr. Roberts tells me that the surgery went better than expected. She is so cool, she took photos of what she removed guessing (correctly!) that I'd want to see the tumors when I woke up. I will include one very graphic photo at the end of this post for those who want to see it. WARNING--did I mention that it's a graphic (gory) photo? Don't scroll down at the end of the post if you're squeamish.
|I came out of anesthesia pretty quickly but I had to stay in the recovery room for|
almost 1.5 hours because my blood pressure remained too low. Once it approached normal
levels I was wheeled into my private room where my family greeted me.
|I felt so good after the surgery--perhaps mostly due to relief that|
everything had gone so well--that I sent mom and Bob home. Jim took
over as my support (with bracelet to prove it) for the evening shift.
Last night I asked the nurses to remove my morphine drip, I was feeling well enough to handle less-potent pain meds. In addition, I was able to get by with just 1 Percocet every 4 hours. Today they are wanting me to "eat" in order to restart my natural body functions...but I'm restricted to liquids only.
|I had veggie broth, diet ginger ale and lemon-flavored Italian Ice.|
|Sandy's face sums up exactly how I feel about the liquid diet options.|
Systems are partially working today, the catheter was removed yesterday and to my great relief (really, no pun intended) at least my bladder function is okay. The jury is still out on another matter, but I will spare you the details. I'm now taking Motrin 800 and 1 pain pill every 8 hours so things are going well, I also get to begin eating limited solid foods today.
|Honestly, I don't know why more people don't come to the|
hospital for meals...just look at the culinary masterpiece they served for breakfast.
|I had a view of the parking lot from my bed, but thanks to the|
folks at Bouvier Kelly Inc. I have these gorgeous flowers to look at.
|These ornaments were given to me by my favorite gypsies|
last month. I asked Jim to hang them from the TV as motivation
to GetBackUP. I'm working on it, my friends--hope to be out
running with you again soon!
|What a great surprise! Jim (an NC State and Wake Forest fan) bought me|
a UNC blanket for good luck in the March Madness NCAA tourney this week.
He stayed until the game was over but I actually drifted off before the end of the game.
|Jim snuck in some contraband, my favorite Fage yogurt--whoo hoo! They only have high-sugar, lower protein yogurt options available here in the hospital... Go figure.|
|(For the astute readers, my motivational ornaments have been|
moved to my IV machine beside me...they were easier to see from there
than from the TV monitor.)
|Dont'cha miss Bob Ross?|
|...my last meal before leaving the hospital.|
Apparently the cuisine of the day is Beige.
March 28th: HOME SWEET HOME
Yay! It's Saturday and I'm finally home. I have a long recovery road still ahead but being home will make the road so much easier.
|I got this cute arrangement from my sister, Becky, bro-in-law Pete and|
my 2 nephews, Jackson and Joey. Thanks, Kubins!
|I got these fun socks from my friends Mark and Michelle.|
|Ahh, the perks of surgery just keep coming. Did I mention|
that I have the best friends ever???
The first 10 days at home were much harder than I thought they'd be. Yes, I was free of all pain meds upon leaving the hospital but I was still in a lot of discomfort. I was retaining fluids and my incision area was so inflamed that I couldn't fit into any of my largest pants. Fortunately I got gifts of loose, comfy nighties and draw-string sweats from some friends. There's a good reason why you'll see no photos of me in these fashionable ensembles but at least I was more comfortable.
At first I was full of energy and was happy that I could move about the house freely, but after about 3 days it felt like my entire body shut down. I think I tried to do too much too soon and my body sent me a warning to kick back a bit more. So, I paid attention. I slept a lot and tried to find small projects to keep me busy without straining myself physically. And thanks to Mona's fabulous advice about preparing my post-op meals ahead it was so easy to eat well. I made smoothies from my stored Ziploc Freezer bags (various mixtures of berries, kale, protein powders, flax seeds, nuts, bananas) and I had many low-sodium, easy-to-digest vegetarian soups on hand to choose from.
My orders from the doctor: Try to walk outside for 30-minutes daily (no more) accompanied by another adult, no driving, no lifting of anything over 15 pounds, absolutely no physical activity allowed other than the walking (no yoga, no stretching, no golf, no jumping, no jogging etc. etc.), no air travel, no long car rides. Most of these restrictions would be in place for at least 6 weeks and some for at least 8 weeks. I'm going to be a slug by then.
|I'm guessing that if I do get to run again it will take a long time|
to get back into marathon condition. But, if that's the biggest
worry I have, I'll be absolutely elated to start over from the beginning!
|The countdown I used for inspiration. I'm really hoping I can attend so that I can thank and cheer for all of|
my running friends in person.
|The Cherry blossoms are stunning this week.|
|Seeing this tree bursting with blossoms, I kept thinking of Agnes|
from Despicable Me: "It's so flufffffy!"
|Today it was Laura's turn to walk me.|
|I made personalized cookies for my granddaughters, Rowen and Summer.|
And now back to the 200+ cookies...
Okay, enough of the cookies already. I just wanted to give you the true scope of my efforts as a temporary shut-in. I will say that Jim was a happy camper since I rarely make enough cookies to allow him his fill, usually he gets food along these lines instead:
|Jim is always shocked to know how I can turn a fridge like this--full of nuts, seeds, seaweed|
raw fruits and veggies into "REAL FOOD" like cookies.
Don't ask, Jim..just enjoy it while you can.
I'm doing well enough to make the trip over to Raleigh to catch up with my Gypsy friends who are coming from all over the country to run the Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 Marathon here. I know I'm going to miss being a runner this weekend but I will be cheering my heart out for all of my friends.
|Jim is already losing his patience with photos...and this is|
only the first one I've asked him to pose for.
|From the top of the escalator I spot Joe, Ted and Michelle heading into the Expo.|
Can't wait to hug them!
|One day I'll be back out there.|
|Just got a text from Kassie showing Granddaughter Rowen enjoying|
|After the Expo we went around the corner to catch up|
with some of our Greensboro friends. Cindy McCall reminded
me that even though we both live in the same city, the last time
we saw each other was 1 year ago...here!
|Gypsy love! I've missed you guys so much and you've been my motivation to GetBackUP. Here we are|
at the pre-race dinner where they surprised me with a very touching gesture...
|...Joe Harris holds up the surprise: My Gypsy friends will all be running in my honor with these bibs that|
Al had made for the gang.
After the early dinner last night, Jim and I checked in to a nearby hotel where I spent a bit of time making my sign for today. As much as I'd like to be out there running it's going to be motivating for me to cheer for my friends...and plus, given how exhausted I was after yesterday's trip over to Raleigh, I know I'd never make it through the first couple miles. I was so worn out and slept soundly last night!
|The 3 Musketeers are ready to Rock' n' Roll! Jim is showing his support for all of our dear CMTA friends, Joe|
is running "To Remember" all our fallen soldiers and Kevin shows his allegiance to his Half Fanatics family.
Good luck to all of you today!
|Jim has his usual pre-race coffee, hoping to wake up at least by mile 3 or 4.|
|Susan Carino models her flower and the honorary race bib. I'm modeling the sign I made|
to let my friends know how much they've inspired me over the years, but especially these
last few months.
|I broke out the RnR Gypsy Tour Photo Frame for this race. It's harder than it looks to|
get everyone in the frame...
|Looks like everyone is excited for the big race, just as the sun is coming up over downtown Raleigh.|
|Inside the VIP lounge I find some of my favorite Greensboro Gypsies: Cindy, Carolyn, Buck and Heath. Except for|
Buck, this weekend is the first time I've seen these friends since last year...we've gotta change that this year, guys!
|I am so honored that they're running for me today, what a special gift.|
|With a fence in front of us I feel safe enough to take a selfie out in the|
crowded street. For the rest of the walk to the start I tucked in safely behind
Jim to keep from getting bumped in the gut by the crowds...my stitches are
|Ron and Susan used their RnR connections to secure a spot for me behind the fence near the stage--no crowd to worry|
about from this safe vantage point. Thanks, Carinos!
|Joe crosses the start line...|
|Kevin toes the line at the start as he talks to the start line officials. I think he may be telling them to get out of his way. :-)|
|Here comes Jim approaching the start line...|
|Ron and Michelle are so speedy the camera can't catch them...|
|Susan, Lisa Marie and Al are on their way!|
|This is a close-up of the bib my friends are wearing today.|
|Billy Williams, Carolyn's husband, made the trip over from Greensboro this morning to watch his wife|
cross the finish line today. I'm glad I'll have a partner on the course.
|I scored a live interview with a local news reporter; she saw the sign and the bib and|
wanted to share the story of our tight-knit Gypsy running community.
|Thanks to Kathy at WRAL #outandabout for sharing the love!|
|My friend, Tim Fennel, shared this photo from the RnR Press site...|
that's me on the corner about 1/4 mile from the finish line waiting to
see my friends come up the last hill.
|Looking strong, Jim!|
|I have absolutely no idea what he was saying.|
|That's Kevin, front row middle, giving it his all to the finish. He had a Personal Record in Raleigh today--|
great job, Kev!!!!!
|Here comes Buck, back row middle, adding another strong finish to his race card for the year. Congrats!|
|Heath looks like he barely broke a sweat on the course today...nice job!|
|Cindy rewards herself back in VIP with one of my|
Easter Egg cookies. You've earned it, girl!
|Joe captures some moments as Smashmouth rocks the crowd at the post-race concert.|
|Nice bling, Team Gypsy!|
|The 2015 bonus medals are awesome this year...I'm hoping to get a few of them but at|
least I can admire all of my friends' hardware.
|Enjoying the gorgeous spring day, listening to the RnR post-race music lineup: Carolyn and Billy Williams with|
Bill and Julie Hughes.
|You all really do inspire me--great job today to all of you!|
(Susan, Carolyn, Al, Jim, Ron and Buck)
Monday, April 20th:
Happy Birthday to my Dad!! Happy Birthday to my friend, Melissa W.!! Happy Boston Marathon Monday!!
I rested a lot after last weekend's road trip but I was also cleared to extend my walk-sessions going forward. In honor of all of my friends running the Boston Marathon today I decided to walk 6.2 miles (still 20 miles shy of the marathon distance but it would be a marathon effort for me today). I knew this would be safe as long as I 1) took resting breaks, 2) I carried a light backpack with emergency contact info, a phone and water 3) I stayed along well-traveled streets in case something happened.
So, it took me over 2 hours of walking and resting (I paused my map App during sitting breaks) but it was really special to know that while I was out walking my friends were running the Boston Marathon at the exact same moment.
|On the road to recovery and slowly making my way.|
Here's where I post the WARNING for those who do not wish to see a graphic picture from my surgery. DO NOT SCROLL DOWN FURTHER ON THIS POST IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE THE PHOTO!!!!
Keep scrolling if you want to see a portion of what was removed during my operation...