File Under: Things I should have learned in elementary school.

Two things you need to know for this story to make sense.

First: I have a lot of hair. It goes all the way down to my butt. I’ve been talking about getting it cut for about a year now, but haven’t done it. I’m not sure why. Every time I think I’m ready, I decide to push it off again. It is quite unmanageable, so I sleep with it in two braids. If not both Jenn and I end up choking on it in the middle of the night, and it is a total nightmare to brush it out.

Second: My current obsession is free samples. I spend about an hour a day combing through websites and getting all the free samples I possibly can sent to me (and Lyz and Joni). It is a great conversation starter. “What samples did you get in the mail today?” Some things are really dumb, and some are quite neat.

So, the other day I got a free pack of gum in the mail. I decided to try a piece last night. I’m not typically a gum chewer. I can chew it for a few minutes, but it typically ends up making me gag, so I spit it out. Apparently the spitting out happened when I was asleep.

Yup. I woke up this morning with gum stuck to the back of my head. Right at the base, right between the two braids. I spent an hour this morning trying to remove it. All by myself. Jenn had left for work at 4:30am. I tried vegetable oil, ice, Pam, and goo gone. Nope. Nothing worked, and I had to get to work.

I cut a chunk of my hair out. Guess my haircut is coming sooner than I thought!

(Yes, my hair will go to Locks of Love, it always does!!)


Particularly Nasty.

I had my followup appointment with my surgeon on Wednesday. The doctor seemed proud to tell me that I had one of the worst gallbladders he had ever seen, it was particularly nasty. He was surprised that I had not ended up in the hospital sooner.

This would explain why I am still having some pain under my right breast. All of the stuff that surrounds the gallbladder was irritated because the gallbladder was so nasty.

I joked with Jenn that I really like the phrase particularly nasty, so much that I may get it tattooed on the inside of my wrist. (Don’t panic mom and dad, I’m kidding. Mostly)

Lyz had her followup appointment on Thursday and the doctor said everything looked good. This is not to say that all of our cancer woes are gone. While Lyz kicked cancer’s ass, her father-in-law could use all the cancer ass-kicking vibes you can send.

Delmar is such a kind and wonderful man. When I first met him he frightened me. As the years have progressed I have grown to love him more and more. Spending tons of time with him at the Christmas tree farm this year really cemented him into my heart.

I don’t like to be touched, especially by boys. I am big on personal space. I am all about a good hug from one of my closest friends and family. But if I don’t know you inside and out, or you are a boy, I’m standoffish. One day in the tree farm office Chris was giving me a hard time about it. I happened to be sitting next to Delmar who reached over and put his hand on my thigh with the biggest goofiest smile I have ever seen. At first I was too shocked to even complain, then his laughter became contagious. I hopped off my chair with the heebie jeebies and laughed with him. In the days following he would walk up close to me and reach out an arm, just to see me react.

So, now that we’ve got Lyz better, I’ve started focusing all the strength I can muster and passing it on to Delmar, if you could spare a thought/prayer/wish or two, we’d appropriate it.

p.s.-I’m wearing real pants today. No more elastic waistbands for me!! (The incisions are still a little sore, but I just can’t stand the elastic anymore!!)

The 5-year survival rate for patients with localized melanoma is 99%.

For the last two weeks this has been my mantra. I repeat it at least 10,000 times a day.

On Thursday, August 5 my phone rang. It was my Lyz. I could tell by the tone of her voice this wasn’t a great call, or a Hi!! How are you call. She asked if we were busy. Um, no. At this point it was still a struggle for me to walk standing up straight.

L-Can you come over?
L-I want to have a family meeting.
H-Is everything okay?
L-I don’t want to talk about it over the phone.
H-I love you.
L-Love you too…with a crack in her voice and a click.

Jenn is now convinced that Lyz is either pregnant, or divorcing us. I tell Jenn I know Lyz isn’t pregnant (I, of course, know exactly what cycle day she is on), I can’t see her divorcing us. And my morbid mind starts thinking of the worst.

One of the girls is sick.
Chris got shot at work.
Both of the girls is sick.
Delmar or Roxanne’s cancer has taken a turn for the worse. (If it was Delmar’s case, I don’t even want to think about his being worse)

We get there and Jenn is even more convinced that they are divorcing us because Joni’s car isn’t there. If this was a sad announcement, Lyz would have had her mother there, right?

We get inside and the girls are eating dinner. Lyz and Chris seem “off” but it doesn’t seem like something major. My pulse begins to slow down a little.

Until Joni walks through the door. I stopped breathing. Something major is wrong.

Lyz asks Jenn, Joni and I to follow her to the formal living room, Chris stays at the table with the girls.

Lyz had a dermatologist appointment a week earlier. She had told me about it at one of their softball games. I used to beg and plead with Lyz to get all of her spots checked. One day she listened! She has been going faithfully every six months since. This past visit the Dr. looked at a spot on her hip and asked Lyz if it was new. Well, you can’t really see that part of your body, unless you are a contortionist. The Dr. figured she would take it off, just to be safe.

The spot is a melanoma. Go and Goggle melanoma. The very first entry says “Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It is the leading cause of death from skin disease.”

When the words came out of Lyz’s mouth I gagged and gasped. Even though I would berate her about it all those years ago, I never actually thought she would get skin cancer. The most dangerous type of skin cancer at that.

The things that flashed through my head were scary. Lyz explained that she is less afraid of dying, then she is angry about the fact that if this was to kill her, she would miss the girls growing up. At that point I switched to my eternal optimist mode.

We spent the next few days all worrying. What is going to happen? Has it spread to other spots in her body? Is it just a few cells in that one spot. Do we need to start a video diary for Lyz so that she can say all the things she wants to say to the girls as they get older. I started planning these video segments. We would record Lyz’s words of wisdom on such days as first date, period, the death of a friend, engagement, wedding, pregnancy. I’ll stop. I have pages and pages saved of ideas for video segments.

For the first time in my life, I was scared of something like this. Usually I live in denial central. I’m not one of those “prepare for the worse because it is always better to be prepared and proved wrong than be all happy and be shot down.” But I felt sick every time I thought about it.

Last Tuesday she went to meet the surgeon. We all waited to hear what the surgeon would say. Would this just be a simple remove the area around the spot? Or would they have to dig deeper and would she need chemo and radiation?

We all let go of our breath when my Lyz texted that the surgeon believes that they will be able to get it all out through surgery. I’m still scared a little. But Lyz and I have a plan to take pictures of every square inch of her body, and even do a monkey style scalp checking. I have faith that surgery will bring an end to this cancer. And I know that we will all be prepared to watch spots and be ahead of the game.

I want to send thanks to Lyz’s dermatologist. She told Lyz that the spot didn’t look dangerous. She only took it because it might be new. Maybe. It could have been there forever and had just gone unnoticed. Thank you for taking the spot. Thank you for taking it just in case. Thank you for saving my Lyz.

Her surgery is today at 11:45am. Please send good thoughts and prayers to the universe. I cannot lose my Lyz.

(yes, I know I keep calling her my Lyz, when I’m really like 5th in line to claim her (after Avery, Delaney, Chris and Joni), but this is my blog. And on my blog she is all mine.)

P.S. Dear Universe, enough with the cancer dammit.

Part Four (or, the end)

I was brought a dinner of yuck. Jell-o, chicken broth (that I don’t believe had ever met a real chicken), raspberry sherbert and apple juice. I did drink the apple juice, after they brought me a glass of ice to go with it. Jenn went down to get her dinner and came back up with the most beautiful pile of mashed potatoes. I ate them. They were yummy.

Joni, Lyz, Chris, Avery and Delaney came in to visit me. The girls enjoyed my view:

Avery colored and watched movies with me:

Delaney thought the room was rather confining, so Jenn and Chris would take her on walks in the hallway (even when the fire alarm went off and they were told to stay in the room. Hmmm…I don’t remember ever finding out if the file alarm was a test or the real thing?) The one time she left I got up to pee (I peed a lot. Like a lot a lot. I would wake Jenn up every twenty minutes at one point. And each pee would last five minutes. Jenn alternated between laughing and crying at this). So when Delaney got back in the room I wasn’t in my bed. I heard her make a HHHH noise, and when I opened the door she smiled at me, said “hhhhh” and pointed me towards my bed. Sweet little thing!

Thursday night was long again. It would take me forever to find a comfortable position so that I could fall asleep, and as soon as I would fall asleep someone would come in to take my temp, or my blood pressure, or check on my incisions (one of them was not sealed up right and kept bleeding) or steal my blood. Sigh. Get some rest!! They’d exclaim. “Leave me the ____alone” I would answer, inside my head of course.

The talk of going home was interesting. And if I never hear the phrases “Pass Gas” or “Bowel Movement” again, I will be thrilled. They started by saying I would be able to go home on Sunday. Then Saturday became the goal. After I wolfed down my breakfast and was caught walking around my room because I was tired of laying in the bed, I was awarded freedom on Friday afternoon. I was passing gas, but not moving my bowels, but they decided gas passing was good enough.

Home was rather boring. I would just lay around in a state between asleep and awake. A friend had brought over some groceries so I ate a lot of yummy turkey sandwiches. On Saturday another friend brought over dinner and I ate that. I was an eating, drinking, peeing machine, but sleep was still elusive. I am a tummy sleeper. Not being able to sleep on my tummy sucks.

Sunday we went over to Joni’s for family dinner. She made really yummy stuffed pork chops.

Monday afternoon Jenn’s phone rings and it is Dr. Man’s office. Just checking in to see how I was. Has she moved her bowels yet? Um, no… OH MY GOODNESS!!!!! Jenn was given orders to find a way to make me move my bowels before 4pm or take me back to the hospital. This became the whole focus of Monday. It hurts to try and move your bowels when you have 5 incisions on your belly. Jenn threatened me with milk of magnesia, suppositories and enema’s. I refused them all. At 3:55pm, I met my goal.

All in all recovery hasn’t been too bad. I’m still a little sore two weeks later. The incision in my belly button is the worst. I’m sleepy a little better, it just takes forever to get comfortable, and since I tend to roll around a lot, I get woken up when I’m in a position that isn’t right for my belly.

I don’t remember ever being actually scared. I honestly still can’t believe it all happened. Even after the surgery I was expecting Dr. Man to say that it wasn’t actually my gallbladder, and I should just go home and fart. I laughed a lot. The weirdest thing of this whole experience to me was being the one in the hospital bed. I’m the one who goes to visit. I’m the one who makes sure everyone else is comfortable when they have been injured, surgered or under observation. I didn’t really like being the one everyone else was worried about.

I do have one more thing to add. I want to thank my son. I’m 100% positive it was Blue who whispered “gallbladder” in my ear. If he hadn’t done that, I most likely would never have agreed to go to the hospital. A lot of people asked me about my angel tattoo on my back. When I would explain that it was for my son who was born still, they would all say “I’m sorry”. I’d reply, “Don’t be. I have an extra angel watching over me.” Thank you for watching over me Blue!! I love you!

Part Three

Once it was decided that I was going to be spending the night and having surgery in the morning, things start to get a little fuzzy.  I blame this on the fact that every time I whined, someone would shoot me up with more painkillers, and the fact that it was like 3am.

Interesting things that happened prior to being wheeled into the pre-op room:

If anyone asked me if there was anything they could do to make me more comfortable, I would beg for ice water.  Ice water became the entire theme of getting my gallbladder removed.  Please give me ice water.  No, you are having surgery, you cannot have anything.  Finally some nurse took pity on me and bought me an ice sponge popsicle thing.  I felt like a rabid dog being handed a bone with a little bit of meat on the end.  She stuck it in my mouth and I sucked it dry.  Drugs=cotton mouth.  Not pleasant.

Once I was taken to my ever so beautiful fully private room another theme became apparent.  If Jenn left my side, something major would happen.  Jenn pees…two nurses come in to take my history.  Jenn goes home to grab some things…another blood gatherer steals my blood without caring that they aren’t going to be able to so it.  (At one point Jenn actually yelled at a blood gatherer.  He was DIGGING into the top of my hand and I was very close to screaming.  Jenn finally said “Step away from her and find someone else” He said “No, I almost got it”  Jenn yelled.  He wet himself.  I got a new blood gatherer)  Jenn takes a shower…Doctor and three nurses come in to tell me all about surgery that will take place in two hours.  Jenn runs to get breakfast…They come to take me to surgery.

Ice water.  I’m still begging for ice water.  I’ve whined to anyone that will listen, including texting Lyz.  Lyz is on her way.  She is smuggling in ice water.  She will be right there…from what I understand she arrived just in time to see me wheeled away.  She did send me this though:

She loves me!

I then began to joke that I wasn’t really having my gallbladder removed. This was all a ploy to stick Jenn and Lyz alone in a waiting room together so they could work out their spat. hahaha. No one cared, they were still sending me under the knife.

They took me back to pre-op and said it would be about 45 minutes before they took me back to surgery. I’m pretty sure it was about 4 hours later. But the time was spent well. Jenn tried to make me some glove balloons, but our hospital is no longer using latex gloves because of all the allergies, so glove balloons weren’t as fun as they used to be.

I spent my time texting people and worrying that my gallbladder held my funny or my sarcasm. What if they take out my gallbladder and no one ever laughs or rolls their eyes at me again??

Finally it was time for surgery:

I woke up in the recovery room so perfectly peaceful and comfortable and happy. No screaming at doctors about them stealing my baby, just bliss.

I heard one of the nurses telling me I had to breathe. I felt the oxygen thing in my nose. But I was sooooooooo comfortable. In my head I answered the nurse “No. I don’t need to breathe. I’m comfortable. If I breathe I may become uncomfortable. The nose thing will give me any air I need. Allllll is well. No breathing here.”

Heidi. We need you to breathe please. (hmm, they are starting to sound a little stern about this. Don’t they realized that I am happy and comfortable. Why can’t they just leave me alone??)

Heidi…can you breathe for…um doctor, her oxygen is…BEEEP BEEEP BEEEP

Next thing I know my happy comfortableness is ruined as they rip the nose thing off, give me a full on mask and start rubbing my chest really really hard. Meanies. But, it made me listen. I began to think about breathing and reminding myself to do it every so often.

Once I was a little more awake they asked me how I was feeling. “Owwie and thirsty”. They brought me another water sponge popsicle thing. I again looked like a rabid dog. Yet I didn’t care. More sponge people. The more the better. Sadly, I was denied.

I guess at this point Jenn and Lyz were getting a little worried. Dr. Man told them I would be out of recovery in an hour. Thanks to my refusal to breathe it was more like two and a half hours. They finally brought me back to the room and Jenn and Lyz were laughing at me. Can you imagine? They swear it was because Lyz almost pulled out my iv (something she did to Jenn years ago) but I’m pretty sure they were lying. The nurse showed them my incisions (and uber swollen belly) and pictures of the gallbladder and my insides. You see the second question Jenn asked Dr. Man when he came out to tell them I was alive was “Do we get to keep it?” No, but I’ve got pictures!! In color!!!

Lyz left Jenn and I to nap. Our tv came with a bunch of free movies that I have been wanting to see. I chose Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince which I have seen 100 times (which is playing on my laptop as I type this). It was comfortable. I couldn’t sleep. I think in the 40 or so hours I was in the hospital I only slept a total of 4 hours. I’m still not sleeping all that well, but that’s for the next part of the story.

My mom asked Jenn for a picture so that she could see I was okay. Jenn takes a picture:

Then the nurse came in to see if I needed anything. Yes. Ice Water. Do you know what her answer was??? Okay, I’ll be right back. I almost cried. I did take a picture and post it to facebook. I titled it “Isn’t my (legal) ice water beautiful?”

To the left you see the styrafoam cup with the thing sticking out of it?? That would be my sponge water popsicle. ❤ Farewell. I've got the real thing now!!

And here I am reaching for it:

And here is the new picture we sent to my mom:

Much happier thanks to the addition of ice water. Ahhh ice water.

And do you see my boob??? It is bigger than my head. Now picture me doing the boob tango with it!!

To be continued…tomorrow…recovery 🙂

Part Two

So we get to the hospital and Jenn whips the truck into a parking space, hops out, and jogs towards the entrance of the er.  Hi!!  Fat girl in a lot of pain here, no jogging please!!  (And yes, she offered me a wheelchair, but at this point I’m still positive the docs are going to take one look at me and tell me to go home and fart.  I am not about to sit in a wheelchair, thank you very much.)

We get inside and the nurse at the desk asks what the problem is.  Jenn explains (since I can’t even breathe right it hurts so bad) that I am having pain in my chest and it hurts to breathe.  Nurse picks up the phone and calls for an EKG team.  I have never been hooked up to 87 silver sticky things so quickly in my life.  Two women, 87 silver sticky things and some wires.  I blinked and the EKG was over.  They sent Jenn, me and our restaurant style pager out to the lobby to wait.

I waddled over to the waiting chairs and had just lowered myself into my chair when the pager thingy went off.  Cute little nurse comes over and says “Follow Me!” in as sweet of a voice she could…and then begins to fly through the corridors.  Hi!!  Fat girl in a lot of pain here!!  Slow down please 🙂

They get me in my room and start talking about an iv.  I warn her that I have crappy veins.  She rolls her eyes.  Yes, I understand that everyone says they have crappy veins.  But I actually do.  She looks at my arms and declares my veins beautiful!  I warn her they bounce.  She rolls her eyes.  I point out the one and only place that anyone ever has any luck with.  She rolls her eyes.

15 pokes later, two nurses and an iv team later, the iv is placed in the spot I pointed out.

Every person I met asked what I was feeling and then asked “Do you still have your gallbladder?”  Yes, but I have a feeling that I’m about to lose it???

Then they shot me full of Dilaudid.  Should I ever win the lottery and become a drug addict, I’m pretty sure Dilaudid will be my drug of choice.  It is an opioid.  I could do that.  It made me happy.  Sadly doesn’t last very long, but it felt darn good while it did.

Next step: ultrasound.  Here I am, high on Dilaudid and being wheeled into an ultrasound room.  I freaked out.  I started shaking and crying and hyperventilating.  You see, the last time I was wheeled into an ultrasound room I was told that my son was dead.  And this was all I could think of.  The poor nurse calmed me down and we began the boob tango.

Yes, I just went from crying about my dead son to a boob tango.  I was high people!!  HIGH!  And yes, I just used the phrase boob tango.  The spot they wanted to ultrasound is located directly under my right boob.  I’ve talked about my rather large boobs before.  (I will be sharing hospital pictures that will further demonstrate the large size of my chest).  I basically held my boob in various positions while the ultrasound tech took pictures.  Can you move it this way?  Sure.  Can you move it over here?  Sure.  Can you roll over and not let go of it.  Do you know how wide I am compared to this gurney lady?  Not to mention the fact that although you are only looking at a 6 inch square part of my body I am lubed up from head to toe with your ultrasound goo?

She took me back to my room and to my Jenn who was looking slightly disgruntled.  It seems that even though I have a file of paperwork stating that Jenn has legal authority over me in every way shape and form that you can legally have authority over someone who you are not legally married to, one of the nurses was giving Jenn a hard time.  She wouldn’t let Jenn ask any questions, nor would she let Jenn answer any questions.  From this point forward when any person would walk into my room I would introduce her as Jenn, my wife, with a glare.  I dare anyone to argue that point with me while I am in severe pain AND high on opiates.  This particular nurse was the only nurse the entire stay that even flinched.  Everyone else acted like they had seen it a million times before and went on with their normal routine.

Finally Mr. Doctor man comes in to see me.  He surprises us all with the news that “Your gallbladder really needs to come out.”  Wow.  After being asked 92 times if I still had it, I had pretty much assumed that it and I would be parting ways shortly.

He gave two options.  Have it out in the morning, or come back in a week.  Neither of these options were really all that great for me.  Jenn starts work in a week.  If I wait a week to have the surgery she won’t be able to stay home with me.  If I have it in the morning, I am going to miss the busiest week of work AND my boss is out of town.  I began to cry.  Mr. Doctor Man gave us a few minutes to talk about it.

He peeked his head back around the door with a pretty scary look on his face and said “Um, nevermind.  I just saw the ultrasound.  You will be having surgery in the morning.”  And that was that.

It seems that the opening to your gallbladder is this big:

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and I had a stone in the opening that was this big:

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My whole gallbladder was swollen and yucky looking.  It and I needed to say our goodbyes.

(too be continued)

Did ya miss me? Part 1.

Well, keep that up because part of me is still missing.

**Cliff Notes: I had my gallbladder removed via emergency surgery.  I’m much better, still healing, concerned that my gallbladder may have held my desire to write as I seem to have lost it.  This will be the first part of the semi-long story.  You do not need to read it all, but I need to journal it all.**

About a month ago I was oh so rudely awoken around 3am with a horrible pain in my back. I’m a total tummy sleeper, so I figured I had just been laying wrong and flipped myself over to stretch it out so I could go back to sleep. Wrong.

The horrible pain had moved to my chest! How dare it move around. Here I was trying to make it all better and it decided it wasn’t having any of that. After flopping and flipping and moaning and bitching for about an hour, I woke Jenn up so there would be someone to listen to me whine (if a girl whines in a bedroom and there is no one awake to hear it…). After another hour or so Jenn had enough and headed to the grocery store to purchase various gas relieving aids, since we both assumed this was the absolute worst case of heartburn ever. With a tummy filled with GasX, Tums, and my precious oxy, I passed out from exhaustion curled up in a ball and went to sleep, forgetting all about the horrible pain, but blaming the delicious Coke I had drank with dinner.

Fast forward to Wednesday, July 28.  Chris had a softball double header.  It was very hot.  Jenn and Lyz were having a spat.  It was very hot.  All I wanted in the world was a slushie, since it was very hot.  After Chris’s game we stopped by the local gas station and picked me up a Coke slushie.  You know where this is going right?

By 9:30 I asked Jenn for some Tums.  10:15 I asked for GasX.  10:45pm Jenn asked me if this pain was like last time.  No, not quite, I’m okay.  By 11:15 I was walking around in circles begging to die.  I had done hiney stands (standing on my hands and feet with my hiney in the air) praying that the gas would just float up to the top and out.  I had done my  full share of whining and it was slowly progressing towards tears.  I laid my head on Jenn’s lap and said “Um, yeah, this is just like last time…but worse.”

I decided to head to the bathroom because maybe sitting on the toilet would give the gas a clue which way to head.  As I crossed the threshold into the toilet someone whispered in my hear “gallbladder”.  Nah.  Can’t be.  That wouldn’t happen to me.  I sat on the toilet for 5 minutes shaking in pain and finally crawled back onto the bed where I begged Jenn to Google Gallbladder attacks.

BINGO.  I had every.single.symptom they offered up.  Pain radiating from front to back, gassy feeling, constipation, etc.  Jenn says alright, lets head to the emergency room.  No.  I don’t want to.  Jenn glared.  Five minutes passed and I had another horrible pain fit and I agreed to at least call the on call doctor.  Jenn made me promise that if he said go to the er I would go to the er.  Fine.  Whatever.  Give me drugs please?

On call doctor hears my symptoms and apparently had already taken all of my drugs.  He doesn’t hear gallbladder.  No, he decides I have a collapsed lung, go to the er.

Jenn doesn’t care that his diagnosis is so obviously wrong, he said go to er, I promised if he said go to er I would go to er, so…off we go to the er.