The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Sunday, December 27, 2009]

CI Update


Laynie has been pretty frustrated with her listening progress, and it's been tough for her to get a good map. She really hasn't had one since May. She got a new map (okay, I know it's MAP, but that just looks so silly... count on me saying map) December 4, but it was painful within three days. Yikes! She went in again on December 8, so her current map is from then. Basically, everything got turned down, especially the higher frequencies. That was great as far as her comfort level--she can now leave her processors on to put away the pots and pans. But it wasn't so great as far as her listening abilities. She's struggling with fricatives and stops, which make up quite a bit of the English language. S and Z (well, /z/) alone are hugely important in English. So that was frustrating. Besides the fact that we haven't done much therapy lately, what with her poor maps and my poor health. Despite all this, I had a hunch that Laynie was still making progress, whether she realized it or not. So, on a day when she was getting kind of down about her listening skills, I gave her the Compass Test. (Again--we had done one in July.)

The Compass Test isn't normed or anything. It's just a way to determine which skills to work on. But it's not a bad way to measure progress, since it's basically criterion referenced. Whew, sorry for the quick nerd-out.

As I'm sure you've already seen, I posted the Compass Test I administered to Laynie in July and again in December. I used a blue pen in July and purple in December. And she has made progress! Now... I have to add a few details, disclaimers and descriptions:

-Both times this was auditory only, using an acoustic screen.

-Notice that her Ling errors were different each time--different mapping problems each time.

-This test involves pointing to one of four tiny pictures. In July, I said any of the words Laynie asked me to, in addition to the target word. In December, I fingerspelled any of the words upon request (sometimes it's hard to tell what the pictures are supposed to be), but I only said the target word. So the test was harder in December, because she had less accommodations.

-She did get as many repetitions of the target word as she wanted--both times.

-In December, I had to say most of the words at a distance of about 6 inches for her to have a fighting chance at distinguishing the sounds. Not very realistic, but it seemed only fair.

-I was so pleased at how well she did on the consonant manner distinctions! That was levels 1 and 2. Consonant place seems to have made real improvement, too, which is wonderful. That can be a difficult skill. I know some kiddos who have had their implants for three years, who are still working on place. Place is the distinction between, say, /t/ and /k/. Or /m/ and /n/.

-This test is hard. You have to listen to a single word, out of context. I mean, it's not hard for a hearing person. When I gave it to a hearing kindergartener (just out of curiosity), she got 98%--missed bat vs. back. But we were in a noisy kindergarten classroom. Still, the test is VERY difficult for those who do not hear as well or are learning to listen. I have students who understand much of what we say but still get 70% or below on the Compass Test (which tells me that they are relying on context and/or have a weak vocabulary). I wish I could give you an example of one of the cards, but I'm in New York right now and don't have them with me.

-Certainly there was some guessing going on, both in July and in December. But in a field of four choices, 64% is much greater than just chance.

-Laynie is doing very well, despite all the challenges!

You might wonder how a person can get 64% on a listening test yet understand basically 0% in conversation. This is mainly because the test has only four choices for each word, rather than the thousands of words that could possibly be used in any given sentence. Finish this sentence: "I saw a _____." Too many possible words I might say. Also, on the test, Laynie does not have to listen for word boundaries in a sentence. That's harder than it seems! It's so easy for hearing people to know which part of a stream of sound is a single word. But it's only easy for you to do that in your own language. Think about when you listen to a foreign language, such as Chinese. Listen to a sentence. How many words did that person say. I would have no idea! I can't tell the word boundaries in Chinese. Or, if you don't sign, watch a signer. Where did one sign end and the next begin? Word boundaries.

Another thing that's a huge impediment right now for Laynie is her auditory memory. She basically has to develop two skills: auditory discrimination and auditory memory. Auditory discrimination is the ability to tell sounds apart (distinguish between them). Auditory memory is remembering what words sound like. Keeping them all in your brain so that you recognize them when you hear them. There are so many words to know! It's one thing to tell two words apart while practicing. It's something else entirely to recognize one of those words just randomly, when you don't know what someone might say.

Another thing that's difficult for Laynie is that she doesn't know what words are supposed to sound like. She's using her literacy skills to bridge the gap, but unfortunately, English is one of the most nonsensical languages in the world when it comes to spelling. Beat and beet? Why?! Time and thyme? Eh? And why don't you say the E on the ends of those words? Have you ever tried to explain the silent K in knee and knock? Or hard C and soft C? Do you even know the rules for hard and soft C? (I do, because I'm so nerdy: hard C is followed by a, o, u or a consonant; soft C is followed by e or i.. probably exceptions, though.) And by the way, why does putting H after C make neither hard not soft C but a completely different sound? What Laynie hears is not necessarily what she's expecting to hear, based on written English. Italian would really be much easier for her to learn. Less functional here in America, though...

Oh, I could go on forever. I love phonology and phonetics. Sigh. (Reveling in my nerdiness.) Better stop here. 

I will just add that Laynie is doing so well with a very difficult task. It has been surprising how much she really wants to learn to listen. I hope she can do it!

Next Laynie post has got to be music... stay tuned.

[Tuesday, December 22, 2009]

Christmas Tree


Presents! There are lots of presents under the tree. I am so excited and looking forward to Christmas, because my little sister, Katie, is coming over! She's going to have a nice Christmas Eve sleepover at my apartment.

Look at all these lovely presents.

Presents for Laynie and Katie!

More presents for Laynie and Katie!

Presents for me, too!

This is my favorite ornament. He's guarding the presents.

I guess this one is guarding the presents, too.

Love this ornament, too.

The bee is on a spring... heehee...

My aunt Susan gave this to me in 1979, when I was just a year old.

Picked this little gem up in Manhattan last year. Yes, I'm Irish.

Mom made this for me when I was little. Yes, I'm old.

Laynie and I aren't really sure whose Empire State Building ornament this is. I think it's hers.

Christmas Cookies


I was brave this year and tried three unfamiliar recipes for food to give away. Laynie and I worked together to make Christmas cookies for my sister, our neighbor, the two young ladies we visiting teach, and Laynie's visiting teacher (at least, we think she's Laynie's visiting teacher... long story).

We made Chocolate Crinkles:

We made Chocolate-Dipped Melting Moments (great name, eh?):

And we made Stained Glass Cookies:

[Saturday, December 19, 2009]

Get-Well Gifts


My mom sent me a care package, which was so thoughtful and very appreciated. Oh, I should have taken a picture of the Christmas ornament. It's a bear wearing a raincoat--she knows I love rain, and she likes to give me stuff related to that. I do love rain... sigh.

Among other things, she sent a burned DVD of the movie, Gorillas in the Mist. This might seem like an odd get-well gift. Laynie found it odd. Katie found it odd. I found it wonderful. I love that movie!!

I have not seen Gorillas in the Mist since.. oh... high school? I'm not sure I have seen it since then. But it was one of my most favorite movies, maybe my very favorite. Don't ask me why! There is something fascinating about a person who devotes herself so completely to her work, as Dian Fossey did. And from things I've read about her, she seems a little spectrumy. Just sayin.

So of course I was excited to pull that DVD out of its sleeve. I commented to Katie that it had to be recorded from TV. No way it was a clean burn from another DVD (disclaimer: my mother would never pirate a movie). I was right: it was recorded from TV!

I know what you're thinking: You say that like it's a good thing... (See, I can read your mind.) I guess it's a matter of perspective.

You might say that my family did not have a great deal of disposable income. We didn't buy very many store-bought video tapes, but my mother DID buy plenty of recordable VHS tapes, which she put to good use. She recorded hundreds of movies and television specials. Not exaggerating. Hundreds. Maybe over a thousand. Everything from the Care Bears to Star Wars. At some point, we started numbering the tapes and cataloguing the movies on them. Several programs would be on each tape, you see, so this was easier than just labeling the sides of the tapes (well, we did that too... but had to write so small...). 

Mind you, these were not exactly professional quality recordings: a lot of our recordings had multiple episodes of static, due to the fact that for three years we lived not only on an Air Force base but also in the flight path of National Airport. Double airplane trouble. Check it out:

I had to smile when the picture went black for a while when I was watching Gorillas in the Mist.

I'm so glad mom recorded that movie and sent it to me. It really made my day.

Bad, Bad Blogger


Yeah, so I stink. I keep meaning to blog, but I am too lazy to download pictures to go along with the first blog I want to do... so I end up doing nothing. But I couldn't let this go unremarked upon.

So we are having a huge snowstorm today. Apparently. So far we are having a small snowstorm. The snow is fine and light, very un-easterly. We typically have heavy, wet, snowball-packing snow. I'd say there's about 2-3 inches on the ground. I can see across the complex... everything I can normally see. I'm sure it will get worse. Much worse, from what I just read in this article.

This article forecasts 10-15 inches, which will "bury many of the major cities in the Mid-Atlantic to Northeast." Come on now--bury? I have been to many major cities in the Northeast... Boston, DC, Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Newark... I hate to be oppositional, but 10-15 inches will not bury these cities. They are really big. They have tall buildings. Taller than 15 inches.

More from the article: Travel will be treacherous. Not recommended to use 81, 77, and 95 through tonight. (Whew, guess we're safe using the Baltimore and DC beltways.) This is a dubious Christmas present. Historic and dangerous December snows. Dangerous Blizzard.

I am sure that heavy snow and wind will cripple us, but it's mainly because Virginians and Marylanders cannot drive in snow. They have an excuse: they don't get much snow (unlike Utahns, aka Utards thanks Kate, who get lots of snow yet are horrible at driving in it) New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians, Jerseyans, and Bay Staters will scoff at a foot of snow. That's not even up to my knees!!!! When I lived in New York, I once drove in snow that was up to the handles of the car. Of course, the snow will still result in mayhem in New Jersey, despite the scoffing, because Jerseyans are an interesting combination of inept yet fearless (except Jelly.. I'm sure you're a good driver).

I don't doubt that bad things will happen this weekend. But come on, this isn't The Perfect Storm. Enough with the overdramatizing. Is a weatherman's job so boring that they have to exaggerate like that? Oh.... now I get it.

[Thursday, December 10, 2009]



Oh, my gosh. My belly button scar is so gross. Laynie took a picture--I'll blog it later.

I'm so bored, and so frustrated. Everything makes me tired! Yesterday afternoon Laynie took me to Best Buy, which is right up the street. After 10 minutes, I just wanted to crawl into bed. My stomach hurt and I was exhausted. I am such a wimp!

Today my big outing will be to my family practitioner, Dr. C. She will fill out some paperwork for short-term disability for me, since I basically have no sick time. There are things I like about working for a contract agency, but the amount of sick time is not one of them.

But on the positive side of things, my swallow is just about back to normal. Yaaaayyyyy.....

[Wednesday, December 9, 2009]

How Sweet


Dad's flowers arrived yesterday. So pretty!

[Tuesday, December 8, 2009]



Laynie took me on a field trip to the mall today. I shuffled the length of the Towson mall and back. With breaks, of course. We also went to the grocery store, to get a fibrous cereal and more Prilosec. I was already exhausted and in pain by the time we got to the grocery store. Actually, Laynie was exhausted, too. But I needed that Prilosec! When I got home, I was in so much pain. I took more oxy and took a nap. I woke up kind of hallucinating.. haha.

So I definitely overdid it today. I had been doing pretty well, but now not so much.

Tomorrow my big plan is to go to the apartment office to get a box from UPS. Ummm... maybe I'll wait for Laynie, in case it weighs more than 10 pounds. I have no idea what it is. I can't remember what I've ordered. I can't remember much that didn't happen today. My other big plan is to play a computer game and take a nap.

Oh! Yesterday I talked to my best friend of 14 years, Jennie. That was so nice. Jennie is the kind of friend that not only will discuss bowel movements but can give useful advice. She has seven kids (and one on the way), so not much fazes her. Unfortunately, we only talk maybe once or twice a year... probably because she has seven kids and one on the way. But I still consider her one of my two best friends, the other being Laynie.

[Monday, December 7, 2009]

Rockin Socks


Katie got a picture of my awesome stockings. And the socks that have treads on the bottom and the top. Hot.

I Like Naps


I napped on and off for the past two hours. Ahhhh...

I can't decide if I'm swallowing better or coughing better. Or if it's just hurting less to cough since I'm on more meds now. Probably all of the above.

I think I forgot to mention that the surgeon saw some adhesions in the right lower quadrant. He lysed them. When I talked to my dad yesterday, I asked him why I might have adhesions. The only reasons I could think of were previous surgeries (which I haven't had) or endometriosis. I've been tentatively diagnosed with that before, but I don't know that I buy into that diagnosis. Dad said it could be endometriosis, but it also could be from ovarian cysts. Hm, they did see a cyst on the CT. So maybe it's that.

Not for the Squeamish


I passed gas!

Last night, after I was in bed for the night, I passed a little gas. I was so happy I reached over and smacked Laynie so I could tell her. I'll bet she was regretting pushing our beds together. Heehee. She was afraid I would be dying at night and unable to call her since she can't hear me. So she made sure she was within smacking distance. Although she might have called it tapping distance...

[Sunday, December 6, 2009]

Getting There


I've rested a lot today, and I feel pretty good... when I'm lying down.

I've settled into a medication regimen: 600 mg of ibuprofen every 6 hours, and 5 mg of oxycodone every 2-3 hours. Yup, I gave in and took the oxycodone all day. Seriously, I do not think it helps my pain, but I'm giving it a try. It is still frustrating, because it makes me so dizzy and tired. It kind of makes me feel like a have the flu--that hard-to-pin-down, crappy feeling.

Walking hurts. A lot.

I'm getting better with sitting up. No problems sitting propped up, of course; I mean sitting up on my own. That was really painful yesterday, but today I can do it for probably 15 minutes at a stretch.

I missed a call from my mom while I was taking a nap. I did talk to my dad, though. He was annoyed that his flowers hadn't arrived, when they were supposed to be here yesterday. Maybe because it sleeted and snowed all day yesterday?

Still hoping my bowels start moving again. Seriously, my belly is hilariously bloated and swollen. I'm like a cartoon character. Need to pass gas. I've explained to my stomach that this is really getting unreasonable, but no luck.

Coughing hurts. A whole lot.

But on that note: my swallow is improving. I think. I hope. I need to be able to eat and especially drink without coughing after each swallow.

Katie stayed all day, which was nice. I don't think I will see Katie for a few days, because she has work and evening classes tomorrow and Tuesday.

I want to take a shower! I did wash the betadine off today, very carefully. But I can't take a shower for five days, so not until Wednesday. I think I will have to wash my hair in the sink tomorrow, though, because it's starting to nastify. I'll probably have to enlist Laynie's help with that. Good old Laynie.

Tomorrow I really want to call my good friend Jennie.

Two Days In


I guess not quite two days since surgery finished... but almost.

I was doing well most of yesterday, but in the evening I got more bloated (common problem after laparoscopic procedures) and was in a lot of pain. Ibuprofen didn't help at all. I hadn't taken oxycodone, because it hadn't helped that morning, when I was in less pain. Why would it help with more pain? I was slowly pacing the apartment, like a mental patient, because walking is supposed to help the bloating go down. It wasn't. Maybe I didn't walk long enough.

The discharge instructions had a list of things to call the hospital for, an example being a fever over 100 degrees. One was increased bloating, and another was severe abdominal pain lasting more than 24 hours. Um, check, check. I walked for a while more and finally called. The doctor on call said to take two oxycodone (so 10 mg) and see how it goes. He said I could go to the ER if I wanted, because it was hard for him to examine me over the phone. Whatever.

Taking two oxycodone did help, and lying down helped a lot with the pain, but not the bloating. I'm just as bloated today, but at least it's not worse. I've been drinking ginger ale, because burping is supposed to help. It hasn't. But I haven't burped all that much. And I have passed no gas. I want to fart! Sorry if that's TMI. ;)

I hate taking oxycodone, because it makes me tired and dizzy. No vertigo, though, and very little nausea, hooray!

Gosh, I still have the rash on my face from whatever they taped on during surgery. I keep putting Aquaphor on, so it doesn't bother me too much. I love Aquaphor. I'm pretty sure I have discussed my Aquaphor addiction before.

Katie had left Friday night to go to deaf happy hour in Washington, DC. She's crazy, because it was at like 11:00 pm or something. I think she got home at 5:00. But, despite the snow, she came back to see me yesterday (Saturday) evening. I put on the new Star Trek blu ray, because Katie hasn't seen it, and Laynie and I hadn't seen it since it was in the theaters. But I was in a lot of pain and wandering around, and Katie was on facebook and not paying attention, so Laynie ended up playing a computer game. I don't know why we didn't just stop the movie.

After I took the medicine and was settling down in bed, Katie and Laynie both came in to hang out with me. Same thing this morning. That was fun, just chatting.

I'm still aspirating. It's so frustrating, because coughing hurts SO MUCH. I think that was definitely contributing to my pain yesterday, because I coughed so much with dinner. When the hospital nurse called to check on me (not the doctor I spoke to about the pain and bloating but the regular next day check), she asked me to call the doctor on call about it. But I don't see the point of doing that on the weekend. I don't know. I might call today and just let them know. Maybe it's getting a little better? I'll wait until after lunch.

Last night we ended up watching an old Ellen comedy special that Katie had recommended. Of course laughing hurt! But it was good.

Gosh, this oxycodone is making my eyes heavy and giving me the creepy crawlies. I don't like it one bit. But I guess it's helping somewhat with the pain.

I want to go for a walk today. As in OUTSIDE. If the sidewalks aren't too icy.

I can't take a shower until Wednesday! Isn't that crazy? And I can't soak in a tub for four weeks, but that makes sense.

[Saturday, December 5, 2009]



I finally took the plunge. Surgery. Here I am at about 6:15 am, ready to go back. My girls Katie and Laynie were with me, and they forgot their cameras... good thing for phone cameras! I wasn't nervous yet. It didn't hit me until I walked into the OR.

Hazel, an anesthesia nurse, had started my IV. She signed and dated the tape. It HURT! Worst IV yet for me. She also took some blood from the crook of my elbow. That didn't really hurt. Too bad she didn't know to do that before she had my IV all taped up. The blood was for Dr. M-the-GI-guy's research study.

Let's get this party started!

I'll go ahead and apologize for a long post now. I've got nothing else to do today, and this is like my journal entry.

They wheeled me on my bed to the OR, and stopped outside. They had me get up and walk in. That was when the emotions hit. I realized it was really going to happen. I felt the tears welling up. The anesthesiologists were getting the table ready for me to get up on it, and I looked around the room. A little. I avoided looking near the table, because I didn't want to see any instruments. But I saw the radio in the corner. The room was big, and the table was small. I told the anesthesiologist (the REAL one, not his resident, who was more nervous than I was) that I was kind of scared. He was very reassuring and had me get up on the table and stretch out my arms onto the arm boards. Somebody put a pillow under my knees. I could see the strap they were going to use to keep my legs on the table, but she didn't put it on yet. The anesthesiologist said he was going to give me something to relax me. I do not remember a thing after that. I suppose that he didn't actually put me out yet, because the surgeon wasn't even in the room, but I don't know.

Dr. M-the-surgeon removed my gallbladder, which turned out to be badly diseased. It was contracted. He also removed my appendix, which was totally fine. I guess he figured as long as he was in there... Well, I had known that he probably would do that, because he put three procedures on the informed consent form: laparoscopic cholecystectomy, EGD (meaning upper endoscopy), and possible appendectomy. I signed it without looking. I was signing a lot of papers. Later (this is going back to before the surgery, obviously), a nurse brought it to me to verify my signature and read off the procedures. I was like huh? Whatever.

Dr. M-the-GI-guy was right: I did have actual reflux (the surgeon thought I was confusing heartburn with gallbladder pain), and it was a separate problem. I knew I liked that guy. He was smart. Dr. M-the-surgeon saw reflux during the endoscopy, even though I had taken Prilosec the night before and that morning. He did not see evidence of Barrett's esophagus, but he took biopsies. He also took biopsies from my stomach, and did something that will test for H. pylori. He found that I have a small hiatal hernia. I also have a grade II lax GEJ sphincter (that's the lower esophageal sphincter on the hiatal hernia picture). I wonder how many grades of laxity there are. Anyway.. that explains the reflux.

I had a tough time waking up from the anesthesia. Of course I was really groggy, and my eyes didn't want to open. The first thing I registered was pain--on my face! My cheeks and lips were burning. Darn Accutane has made my skin so sensitive. I think I've written before my Aquaphor addiction. As I woke up, the oxygen mask was only making my cheeks hurt worse, and I began to cry. The nurse (my best nurse out of the four I had) came over to see what was wrong, and I tried to sign pain and thirsty, and she didn't get it. Actually, I didn't even mean that I was thirsty. I meant dry, but somehow I signed thirsty. My brain was a little addled. The nurse seemed to think I was randomly moving my hand, and she kept asking me what was wrong. I finally realized that I was signing and of course she is not going to understand, so I whispered, "Vaseline. Dry." That's right, my first word upon waking up was not Mom, Dad, Katie, or Laynie... It was Vaseline. The nurse noticed the rash all over my face and got worried. She smeared Vaseline on my lips (sweet relief!) and had the post-anesthesia doctor, Dr. S, look at my face. They were getting kind of worked up about it, so I must have looked awful. I kept trying to say Accutane, and finally they got it. They put bacitracin on it and I felt much better. Except that my stomach hurt and itched. I asked what time it was: 11:30. I had gone into the OR at 7:15. Later I found out that I came out at 10:58. I guess I was under the knife for three and a half hours.

The surgeon came by to see me, and he told me that he removed my gallbladder, which was quite inflamed, and my appendix, which was healthy. Prophyaxis, you know. The more I think about it, the happier I am that he did that. That was all he said. A few minutes later, the anesthesiologist came by to see how I was doing. After he left, I was not doing too badly, and they were going to get Katie or Laynie to see me. The nurse came back to say that they weren't there. I figured they were still at audiology, because Laynie had a mapping appointment. I didn't care anyway. I didn't have a desire to see them. It wasn't that I actively didn't want to see them, I just didn't care. Then I felt like there was junk in my throat, and I had to cough. I had trouble coughing it all up, and I ended up making it worse for a while, and I couldn't breathe. The monitor was blaring its warning, and the nurse helped me sit up to cough it out. Finally I did, and I laid back down. My throat was so dry. It hurt to breathe! Every breath felt like little knives stabbing the back of my throat. I started to cry, and the nurse wasn't able to help me feel better, so she went to get Dr. S. I wanted to stop her, because I knew the doctor couldn't do anything about it. But I couldn't exactly yell after her. I could barely whisper.

While the nurse was gone, my throat began to settle down, and I wasn't feeling too horrible. But then I started crying uncontrollably. It hurt to cry, but I couldn't stop. Dr. S came, and I told her that I was fine, but I just couldn't stop crying. She and the nurse went out to the other side of the curtain to talk. I could hear them just fine. Dr. S said that the medicine (from the anesthesia?) was making me cry, that it would probably continue for a while, and just to reassure me. I opened my eyes and smiled at the nurse to let her know that I heard everything (still crying, ha). She came over and told me to get some rest. A few minutes later, the creepy crawlies started.

I felt like something was crawling under my skin, all over my whole body. I loved the pressure from the leg massager things, which were on my lower legs. I wished I had those all over. I kneaded my hands into the bed to try and get some pressure, wondering if this was how sensory disorders feel. This is going to sound crazy, but I reeeeeeeeeally wanted to beat my head, like just hit it with my hand, because I thought that would make the feeling go away. I didn't, because I figured the nurse would flip out. It was hard to contain that impulse, though. Finally, I fell asleep, or at least into a haze. I could hear the conversations around me. The guy in the curtain area next to mine had had some malignant tumors removed from his lungs. His family was loud. I wanted them to be quiet so I could sleep. I think I finally did sleep.

At around 1:30, I woke up doing a little better. The creepy crawly feeling was gone, whew. After a while, the nurse asked if I wanted to see my family, and I said OK, but my voice didn't work. She understood my mouth movements, though. Katie came to see me, and I still couldn't talk. I just couldn't get my voice going! I decided to sign. Poor Katie. I didn't have great motor control yet, and I was signing with only one hand. That conversation was basically one big miscommunication. She told me that the surgeon had spoken with them, that he removed my gallbladder and appendix, which I knew. She also told me about the hiatal hernia, which was news to me. She said that hiatal means small, and I tried to tell her no, hiatal is referring to the location of the hernia, as opposed to an inguinal hernia, etc. But I had more language inside than I could really express. Katie didn't understand me. I'm sure my fingerspelling was horrible. I tried to ask if I needed surgery to fix the hernia (thinking about my friend Deb from work, who had a hernia repaired last year), but Katie thought I was talking about pooping. If you know ASL, you will understand why confusing surgery with poop is a perfectly reasonable misunderstanding. I started getting my voice and the nurse came over. She was confused, to say the least! Katie left, and the nurse said, "I talk and you respond.. I talk and she responds.." Haha, I told her that we are both hearing, but we were just signing. Come to think of it, I don't know why Katie was signing back. My ears worked just fine. Putting out what she was taking in, I guess. I think Katie left pretty frustrated.

A little while later, Laynie came back to see me. I don't really remember much, except that we communicated fine. Laynie just reminded me that she was the one who told me that I only had two holes: an umbilical incision and a shorter incision (punture?) under my right ribs. I was surprised and didn't quite believe her, because Dr. M had said he would make three punctures and an incision. The nurse said, "Yeah, I think there are only two--I was looking for them before." Eh? When I was out? Haha. So she looked again and still only saw the two spots. Wow.

I've said a few times that my mouth was dry--this is something I struggled with all day. The nurse swabbed my mouth with water every now and then, but I was breathing through my mouth (guess I didn't need the cannula on my nose), so it kept drying out. I wasn't able to eat or drink yet. One thing I noticed was that I was aspirating the bits of water that would run down into my throat. I was hoping that a larger bolus (bigger swallow) would help, and I didn't worry too much about it.

Katie and Laynie took turns visiting me all afternoon and evening. Laynie took this picture of Katie in the waiting area. Little techie girl.

Of course, they wanted to get me up and eating, drinking, going to the bathroom. All of a sudden, I really needed to pee. Laynie was with me at that point. I wanted to try and get up to use the bathroom. When the nurse sat my bed up, the room spun. It spun more when I tried to sit on the edge of the bed. I wasn't able to sit up straight, and I wanted to lie back down. I just wanted them to leave me alone. All of a sudden I did not have to pee. The nurse got a wheelchair and was locking the wheels when the room spun again and a wave of nausea washed over me. I leaned against Laynie and began to cry. I told the nurse that I was nauseated, and she laid me back down and went to get medicine for that. First she had me use a bedpan. Weird. Then she got the medicine ready, warning me that it was going to make me sleep for a few hours, but I would feel much better when I woke up. It was called fenerdyl or fenerfen or something like that. The nausea subsided as soon as I laid down, but I wasn't thinking clearly enough to connect the nausea with the room spinning, so I didn't stop her from injecting the medication into my IV line. Within 10 minutes I was in a stupor, but it took a long time for me to fall asleep. I kept hearing conversations around me and machines beeping.

I woke up around 5:00, and Laynie was there again. I had to pee again, and they tried to get me up again. Same thing: the room spun and my stomach spun with it. All of a sudden I had a word for it: vertigo. I told the nurse that I was feeling nauseated and couldn't get up to use the bathroom, but I didn't think I needed nausea medication. I tried to explain the vertigo. She gave me nausea medication anyway, but a different one, which would not make me drowsy. I was fine with that. But I still wasn't able to get up, and I had to use a bedpan again. Then the nurse kicked Laynie out. That nurse kept kicking them out.

I wanted to get up, and of course everyone wanted me to. I was learning that if I fixed my eyes on something directly in front of me, the room would not spin, or at least not much. So I sat up in bed for a while, practicing that, and then I asked the nurse to help me to a chair. Oh, man, did my stomach hurt when I stood up! And it hurt sitting in the chair. The nurse offered to put my legs up, which helped tons! Dr. S came by to discuss pain, and I told her that I was having quite a bit of pain, maybe a 7/10. But I did not want something that would make me dizzy or lightheaded. I agreed to take IV Tylenol. I think it was called Toridol. It didn't really help, but I have a decent pain tolerance, and pain wasn't my main concern at that point. Pain wasn't what was keeping me from going home; vertigo was.

The nurse wanted to get me eating and drinking, and I was definitely down with this plan. It was about 5:30 by this time. She offered Pepsi or Sierra Mist, and I chose Sierra Mist. I would never drink caffeine. She was gone for a while, and Katie was there by that time. The nurse said, "OK, here are your crackers, and here's your Pepsi." Apparently they were out of Sierra Mist. And I had to drink something carbonated to try and get some of the air out (they pumped me full of air for the laparoscopic procedure), so water was out. Oh boy. There was no way I was drinking Pepsi. I knew it would all work out. Of course, Katie offered to buy Sierra Mist from the vending machines in the waiting room, and the nurse thanked her. Katie was gone for a while, reappearing with fruit punch. As in, non-carbonated fruit punch. The machine with Sierra Mist wasn't working or something. The nurse rejected the fruit punch and was ready to give me Pepsi. This was a different nurse, actually, the only one whose name I got. Earl. Big guy. At first I wasn't too sure about him, but I ended up liking him. I explained to him that I could not drink caffeine, and he was fine with that. Katie texted Laynie to get something carbonated for me. About 10 minutes later, Laynie texted back that someone needed to watch the bags if she was going to go looking for more vending machines. That whole time we had thought Laynie was off getting my drink, but I guess the texts took a while to be received. So I sent Katie out to the waiting room. It felt like forever before Laynie showed up with Sprite. She had had to go all the way to the cafeteria, which is two buildings away! I really appreciated that.

I got to drinking, and just as I had feared, I aspirated with every sip. Small bolus... large bolus.. it didn't matter. Chin tucks didn't help. "Hard and fast" swallows didn't help. I wasn't aspirating the entire bolus, but a little bit with each swallow. I was able to cough it back up every time, though (although I would often reaspirate it when I tried to swallow it again). I told Earl that I was aspirating, and he asked me what I thought was happening. He knew I was a speech pathologist, and swallowing is within my scope of practice. I paid closer attention. I thought it was a problem with the pharyngeal phase. When I put my hand on my throat during the swallow, I could feel my larynx elevating. But was it enough? Or maybe I wasn't adequately clearing the laryngeal vestibule--what most people would think of as the back of the throat. I could feel liquid still there after a swallow. Maybe the upper esophageal sphincter was snapping shut too quickly, before the entire bolus was in the esophagus? Maybe I the problem was really with the oral phase of the swallow, that I wasn't pushing the entire bolus back. What I wouldn't give for a barium swallow or FEES, just to satisfy my curiosity. Well, it's not worth it just for curiosity's sake.. but you know. I'm nerdy, what can I say?

It wasn't just the liquids either: I aspirated some crackers, as well. I had to laugh when I coughed after swallowing crackers and chewed up cracker hit the back of my hand HARD. It was like in the movies when a person is choking and someone does the Heimlich. I figured all of this was due to the anesthesia or maybe the intubation. Earl told Dr. S, who came over and was concerned. She checked my chart and noticed that I was an easy intubation. She considered keeping me NPO (which would have meant that I would have to stay in the hospital, I think), but she ended up letting me keep trying to eat. She said it was because I was an SLP and she trusted my judgment. Hm. I kept trying to eat, and I kept coughing after each swallow. The more I coughed the more my stomach hurt. My regular nurse (Earl was filling in for her because she was busy) came over to check on me. I told her that I was aspirating, and she said, "Oh, I'm sure you're not really aspirating. You're sitting up, so I know the food is going the right way." She was exactly the kind of nurse that drove me crazy during my hospital internship, because they send people home who are at risk for aspiration pneumonia! Nurses have to refer when patients are aspirating, so that the SLP can at least to a bedside swallowing evaluation. I explained to her that you can aspirate sitting up, and I am. She went off to find the doctor, still think she was right. She came back a little more contrite.

My surgeon walked snappily by at one point and asked how I was doing. I told him I was fine except that I was aspirating. He said, "You're dysphagic?" and laughed. He asked Earl to get me a spirometer, reminding me that I should know what to do with this, being an SLP and all. He wants me to use it to monitor my lung capacity and to work out my lungs. He said he would trust me to call if I needed to see an SLP. He was giving me a hard time about being an SLP with dysphagia.

After my adventures in aspiration, I wanted to use the bathroom. I asked Earl to help me. He went and made sure the bathroom was empty (smart), then came back to help me up. I still had vertigo, but I was getting better at finding a spot to focus on, which kept the room from spinning. Much. I crept very slowly to the bathroom, holding onto Earl. I noticed that he had placed a seat cover on the toilet for me. Thoughtful. I went a little faster on the way back--maybe a turtle's pace instead of a snail's pace. Turns were tough, but spotting helped. I finished my crackers and most of my Sprite (coughing all the time), and then it was time to discuss my release. Yes!!!

Earl was so sweet as he wheeled me down to where Laynie and Katie were waiting with the car. He warned me which way he was going to turn, so that I could find a spot to focus on. It worked, and the world didn't spin much.

Hooray, home! My vertigo was a little better. I was able to move my head about 30 degrees without things spinning, as long as I kept it level. Looking down was the worst. No, looking diagonally downward was the worst. We left the hospital at 8:00, and I was in bed by 9:30.

I got up about every two hours to use the bathroom. The pain was getting worse all the time. I had only taken Tylenol or ibuprofen since 6:00 pm. Dr. S said that the oxycodone that I got would help with incision site pain, but that Tylenol or ibuprofen would be best for crampy, internal pain. I occasionally felt a breathtaking stab of pain at my incision site, but mostly bad crampy pain. It was worst when I was standing. My whole stomach felt to tight. Still does, actually.

I got up at 5:45 and ended up taking oxycodone around 7:30. I'm not sure it helped. I think just sitting still helped. I have a low dose of oxycodone anyway, just 5 mg. I had a bad reaction to codeine in the past (it made me puke), so the doctors were playing it safe. I have 90 pills (89 now), but I doubt I will take more. At least it didn't make me puke.

Now I'm in a weird position. My brain is active, since I'm not on narcotics. I feel fairly decent, except for abdominal pain. But I can hardly walk. So I can't do anything! I think I will be tearing my hair out this week. I have never experienced anything like this. Normally if I am sick, I feel tired (which I am, but not too badly--just one nap today), light-headed, dizzy. You know. So I don't want to do anything. But now I want to do stuff but can't because I can't move well and I have all this pain! It's just weird.

So that's what happened. Wow, it has taken over two hours to type this blog post! My butt is asleep. Time to go.

[Wednesday, December 2, 2009]

Oh Darn


Weird day yesterday. It started out fairly decently, and I wasn't having a whole lot of pain. I should mention that I was in pretty much constant pain last Thursday-Saturday, a little better on Sunday. I had another pain attack Sunday night and had great days Monday and Tuesday, with very little pain. Yesterday it started up again a little, and I was having processing problems (SO annoying). I did wake up with pain and reflux today. But that's not why I am saying, "Oh, darn."

Yesterday I was working (of course), and I happened to check my phone messages at 1:45. I had three voicemails: one from my dentist (broke another temporary crown on Tuesday, so he's trying to get me in to replace it--he needs to trim gum tissue before he can do a permanent crown, just waiting for my medical issues to be resolved first), and two from the surgeon's office. This would be Dr. M-the-surgeon, not Dr. P. I didn't like Dr. P very much. I was not supposed to see Dr. M-the-surgeon for at least a week, but I guess Dr. M-the-GI was bugging him to get me in. Dr. M-the-surgeon had something open up for this Friday and wanted to meet me first. As in, surgery this Friday.

It was odd to get the message, call them, and have the secretary say, "Can you be here now? Like in half an hour?" Yeah, OK, Woodstock to Johns Hopkins in half an hour. In the rain. Not that I have a problem driving in rain, but 695 is always backed up when it rains. Anyway, I headed straight there. I don't know why I hurried, because it was over an hour before I even saw the PA. Two hours until I saw the surgeon. Only the cleaning crew was there when I was leaving--the doors were locked where patients normally leave! I didn't even think about it until I got on 83 (right near the hospital) and it was basically stopped traffic. Baltimore at 5:30! Doh!

The surgeon is going to do the endoscopy and cholecystectomy (removing my gallbladder). Actually, lap chole. He's confident that he will not need to open me up, that it can be done laparoscopically. Hope so! For the endoscopy, he will check out my esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, and he'll take some biopsies. I'm pretty glad that will happen while I'm completely out rather than under heavy sedation. I know I wouldn't remember anything while under heavy sedation, but it was really freaking me out.

I'm nervous to have surgery, and I know I will be really nervous tomorrow morning. But I do feel it's the right way to go. It was not a hard decision to make.

Today I have to go in for a presurgical workup. I will be annoyed if they take more blood, because I think they can use the bloodwork I had last Wednesday. I think they did the tests that are usually done preoperatively. Well, we'll see. The have to do an EKG anyway (although I had one in October), so I know I can't get out of it.

Ugh, have I ever said that I hate reflux? Yup, hate it. And the feeling of someone poking me in the ribs. I can't wait until this is all done. The surgeon said 85% of people have their pain resolved with this procedure. Hopefully I will be in that 85%. The PA didn't really help when he said (before the doctor showed up) that he had had pain just like mine, had his gallbladder removed, and it ended up not being the problem. What does that mean?? Anyway, the surgeon recommended asking for a month off work, just in case. He has got to be kidding. I can't take a month off. I have three sick days!

Better get ready for work. Um, or the dentist.

[Monday, November 30, 2009]

Kicking Myself


I had an attack last night, which rudely woke me up around 11:30 and ended abruptly at 1:30. (The only nice thing about the attacks is that I have no question whether they are over and I can go back to whatever I am doing, because the pain drops off suddenly.) When I woke up, I initially only registered reflux, and I tried to ignore it (because I was sleeping). But it was really bad, so I sat up, which usually helps my reflux. Then I realized I was in a lot of pain. Et cetera, et cetera.

But here's why I am kicking myself:

When I met with Dr. M, the GI doctor, he was trying to figure the whole thing out and find a connection between the pain attacks and the reflux. I had told him that Prilosec worked wonders for the reflux, and he asked if it helped to take a Prilosec during a pain attack. It had never even occurred to me to do that. I just took ibuprofen and hoped for the best (although my pain laughs in the face of ibuprofen).

I should have tried it last night!!

This was probably (well, hopefully) my only chance to try that before the endoscopy on Thursday. See? Kicking myself!

[Sunday, November 29, 2009]

Hi Mom!


Just noticed that my mom is following my blog.

[Friday, November 27, 2009]

Happy Birthday to Katie


Katie's birthday was November 20, and Laynie made a wacky cake, as requested. I made the frosting and decorated it. Unfortunately the gel icing tube ran out, and I could only write, "Happy Birthday K." I am having the worst luck with store-bought icings this year. (But I was feeling like crap that day and really busy--that's why Laynie made the cake and bought that decorating gel.) The cake tasted great, and the mint frosting was delicious.

Look at all those candles. She's so old.

Katie is so photogenic.

See? She's beautiful!

Hope your wish comes true, Kate!

Glass Breaker


Carson is hilarious. He is one of those kids who can be found posing in front of the mirror for imaginary press shots and commentating on his plays. He loves sports and is good at them. However... you shouldn't play ball in the house. A few weeks ago, Carson was playing catch in the great room with his dad, and somehow the baseball went through the glass on the side of the grandfather clock. Obviously this was daddy's fault, since he wasn't able to get in front of the clock in time to catch the ball. Carson told me this story and informed me that his new nickname was Ball Breaker. He brought me his ball and little souvenir bat and asked me to write "Carson Ball Breaker" on them. Hmm. I was laughing on the inside but trying to figure out a way to discourage the boy from his chosen nickname. Ding, light bulb. I pointed out that the ball wasn't broken; the glass was broken, so his nickname should be Glass Breaker. Carson was totally fine with that, and I wrote it on his bat and ball. Eric (daddy) came downstairs a few minutes later and thanked me; he had heard the whole thing from his office.

Almost a great picture.

Me, Glass Breaker, and Morgie

Showing McConn how to play Mr. AahH! She loves to play games on my iPhone.

Morgan is so weird.

By the way, let me just point out the way McConn is dressed, in comparison with everyone else. The book Fancy Nancy might have been written about her.

(I know I said I didn't have any pictures of the kids from last weekend... I guess I lied. Forgot about these.)



I adore Thanksgiving food.

Sadly, Katie did not join me for Thanksgiving, but Laynie and I still did a rocking job this year. The turkey was very good (although the pink around the edges freaked me out and I had to google it--darn nitrites). The stuffing was GREAT--Pepperidge Farm. We did regular green beans instead of a casserole, since I detest green bean casserole. I told Laynie to make it for herself anyway, but she decided not to. I, on the other hand, made sweet potatoes basically for myself. That recipe is too sweet for Laynie, although she said it was "okay," so I'm planning to modify it next year. I couldn't remember if I cut the sugar last year or not, and I'm thinking I probably did. For me, it's fine, because I'm a food mixer anyway. I rarely eat foods on their own, especially side dishes.

We used Alton Brown's mashed potato recipe and did not like it. Too garlicky! And it really needed butter. I tried to save it with butter and pepper, but it was a big disappointment. I should have just made potatoes the way I know how. I will say this: Alton's suggestion of using half russet and half red potatoes was great. I would definitely do that again.

Apple pie.

Laynie made a nice apple pie (with a bit of help) for dessert. Very good, especially for a first try! My bakerhood is rubbing off on her. I love to bake, and I love to eat baked goods! This apple pie had a good crust, although I still like my mom's recipe better; I will have to get that from her. The filling recipe Laynie used is here. It was weird to pour the liquid over the top of the crust rather than just mixing it with the apples (we followed some reviewers' advice and mixed about 3/4 of it with the apples and poured 1/4 over the top). But it was good.

[Wednesday, November 25, 2009]

Wicked Good Weekend


Last Friday night, Laynie and I drove up to New York, because we had tickets to see Wicked. This was Laynie's big, fancy, admittedly somewhat self-focused birthday gift from me. I figured she would like Wicked, but I knew that I would--I've seen it before. I love musicals!

We stayed with Maureen and Eric, the lucky parents of the inimitable Morgan, Carson, and McConn, of Port Discovery, Jersey Shore, Donut-Making, Take-a-Break, Photogenic, Rock Band, and Laynie-Loving fame. We were really lazy and didn't get any pictures of people (except for ourselves at Wicked), but I did snap a picture of the pool, which is still under construction. Can't wait to try out that slide next summer!

Me, outside the theater.

Layniebug, in front of the awesome Wicked set. We were in the front mezzanine, second row, center section. Laynie likes the front mezzanine better than the orchestra. She says that it is better visually.

Waiting for the show to begin. Oh boy!

Laynie got a great shot of the curtain. Check out those little jewels.

Laynie with her captioning device.

The captioning device was so cool! Only three of the shows on Broadway have these (Wicked, Mamma Mia, and Jersey Boys) so far. It works based on the lighting cues, so it stays reasonably in sync with the show, which is difficult given the timing variations inherent in a live show. Applause breaks alone could make a show 10 minutes shorter or longer. Laynie felt like she could really follow the words to one of the songs: No Good Deed. It is sung with very distinct timing. Laynie really enjoyed the show, although it was a little loud for her delicate bionic ears.

I loved the show, and I felt like I got more out of it the second time around. The standby Glinda performed, and she was just ok, but the Elphaba was great. This could be a show I see a dozen times, like Chicago and Jekyll and Hyde. Oh, and Scarlet Pimpernel. And Putting It Together! I just love the theater, especially musicals.

It was a great weekend. We took the kids out for a sort of late dinner on Friday. To Take-a-Break, where else? The patio has now been enclosed, so they are open year round. When I lived there, it was just an ice cream shop with a few grill foods (hamburgers, hot dogs), but now they are doing big business in pizza, and they just introduced homemade donuts. McConn recommends them.

Carson (age 6:9) has been in speech therapy since around April, and he is sounding so good! His R is over 70% in conversation, and his L is really coming along, as well. This is a huge improvement since I saw him in August, when he was still at the word level with these phonemes! I advised Eric to have Carson evaluated when he turned six last February, thinking they would work on his L, since he's a little young to work on R. But he turned out to be stimulable for R, so his SLP (who comes to his private school from the local public school, nice of her) went for it. Of course, I told Carson how good he sounded. I made sure to whisper it to him, since he's weird about compliments. He seems to view compliments about things he's just learned as reminders of mistakes made in the past. I do miss his little-boy speech though, especially widow (little), yeddoh (yellow), and Wex (Rex, the dog). White, light, and right are now three different words. But he hasn't worked on TH yet, so I get to enjoy dare (there) and fink (think) a little longer.

Laynie and I went to Chef Central on the way down to the city on Saturday. LOVE THAT STORE. I stop by there every time I'm in the area. If you ever find yourself in Paramus, NJ, GO. There's also a store in Hartsdale, NY, but I prefer the Paramus store.

OH, I almost forgot. I got stopped by a cop on Saturday morning! I drove past one in the park (Tuxedo Park, the village where my friends live), and I didn't think anything of it. When I was out of the park and on Route 17, he pulled up alongside me at a stoplight (good thing I didn't squeak through the yellow as it turned red) and asked me to pull over at the next parking lot. Brother. The cops in the park are so picky, because there is no crime there and they are always bored. Turns out I had a taillight out. He said he was going to write me a citation for it, but that I could come back after I fixed it and probably get out of the ticket. Uhhh....

I cheerfully explained that I was visiting from Maryland and was only here for the weekend to see Wicked with my friend, who has never seen it before. He asked when I got there. Um, last night. When are you leaving? Tomorrow morning. He asked who I was staying with in the park. I told him, and of course he knew who they were. His whole demeanor changed, and that was the moment I knew I was golden. He gave me back my license and advised me to fix that light as soon as I could and have fun at the show. Hooray! I went straight to Ramapo Auto Parts and fixed it myself. Well, with Laynie's help. And one of the guys who worked there might have helped a little. Still, I felt very capable. So capable that when my headlight went out two days later (weird coincidence), I fixed it that very day. With Laynie's help.

It was a great, though short, weekend.

I Like This Guy


I saw a new doctor today: Dr. M, a gastroenterologist with Johns Hopkins. He was great!

He listened.

He explained.

He listened more.

He asked questions.

He thought.

He suggested.

He planned.

He wants to see my gallbladder out ASAP, given that I have signs of sepsis. However...

First he wants to do an endoscopy, to see how bad my reflux is, assess the damage it has caused, and see why I might be having the reflux. He does not think the reflux is related to the pain episodes. He sees it as a separate and equally concerning issue. That's because I have it pretty much every day, unrelated to what I eat (I wake up with it), and because I am having swallowing problems. Yeah, I haven't mentioned that one on the blog. Anyway, Dr. M wants to do the endoscopy before I have the cholecystectomy, because then he won't have to wait for me to heal from surgery, and because there's still the teensiest possibility that the pain attacks are not being caused by my gallbladder. But he thinks they are.

He thinks I probably passed a stone at the ER. While I was waiting to be seen (yes, read that with sarcasm). He doesn't understand why the ER doctor did a CT scan and kept looking for other causes, given that my liver enzymes were through the roof. Oh, and the fact that there was a .9 cm stone in my gallbladder!!! "Tiny little stones just like everyone has," my butt. Dr. M thinks I might have passed a stone with each pain episode, or there might have been just one or two that have hung out in the ductwork, causing problems. One almost certainly was blocking the hepatic duct at least twice: once while I was at the ER, based on the liver enzymes on the bloodwork, and once when I had the HIDA scan. Dr. M said there might be one still just "rattling around" in there, going up to the liver and down toward the sphincter of Oddi (where the bile duct meets up with the intestines). That could be causing some of the irritation and pain I have been feeling between episodes. That also could account for the septic symptoms. When the stone blocks the common hepatic duct, the bile backs up into my bloodstream. Nice! It would also cause plain old irritation of the liver. He wasn't sure that explains my blood clotting problems, though, and he is going to check clotting factors and take a look at my platelets. He thought maybe the combination of stones and Accutane might be doing something in that area.

He sent me straight to the lab, which was no surprise. Assuming I would need to sacrifice some blood but not knowing exactly what he would want, I had fasted this morning and not taken my Accutane. He ordered lots of tests. Two were at my request: blood sugar and cholesterol, just because I've never had them checked (and as long as I was fasting anyway).

I had a wonderful phlebotomist, a grumpy old black lady who informed me that she is one of only two good phlebotomists in the area (ha, she hasn't met Dr. D, my dermatologist). When I warned her that I am a tough stick and finding a vein usually requires multiple pokes and some digging and here is a good vein, she ignored me. But she got it in right away, no digging necessary. After filling the required seven--that's right, folks, seven--vials, she informed me that whoever said I had bad veins or had to poke me more than once (um, every Navy and BYU phlebotomist) was a fool. I completely agree. I love this woman.

So, the plan is:
-December 3, I will have the endoscopy, which Dr. M will do at the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center. Boy am I familiar with that place! Both of Laynie's CIs were done there, as well as all of her mappings.
-I will have an appointment with another Dr. M, a surgeon. This will probably be after the endoscopy. I'm hoping for the day after, but we'll see what they offer. I'm kicking myself for leaving my phone on vibrate, because I missed a call from Dr. M-the-surgeon's office about an hour ago. I called them back literally less than 10 seconds later, having just missed the call, but naturally they were closed.
-I can't remember if I blogged it, but Dr. P, the first surgeon I visited, had scheduled me for surgery for December 3. I talked to them earlier today. They needed to cancel anyway, and I was wimpy and just said that I would have to call them back after I looked at my calendar. Not going to call them back. Not comfortable with Dr. P. Hopefully I like Dr. M-the-surgeon better.

Seriously, the timing on all of this could not possibly be worse. I have three students in crisis (ok, let's be honest, it's not the kids who are in crisis), and one student in semi-crisis. I have consultation meetings, pre-meetings, IEP meetings, planning meetings, due process meetings, and observations over the next few weeks. Plus presenting at the speech meeting in three weeks, which I have not even begun to think about. Well, it is what it is. I'm glad that I told people at work that I was having some health problems. At least they won't be surprised if something pops up on my calendar and I have to miss a meeting.

Alright, now I want to blog about more interesting things. New post!

[Tuesday, November 17, 2009]

How Do I Feel?


I don't know how I feel. Confused. I met the surgeon yesterday, and he felt like I was a classic candidate for getting my gallbladder out. That's right, folks, I found a surgeon who wants to do surgery.

I'm pretty cynical about it. I don't know how much of that is my denial talking, though, because my fear is that he will take my gallbladder out and see that it was just fine. I'm afraid that going to a surgeon when you have a problem is like when parents take their child to our local children's hospital wondering if their child has autism (or ADHD, or whatever is on their mind). The child typically gets the label the parent thought they should have. Sometimes you get what you are looking for.

On the other hand, a little part of me is afraid that he will start the procedure laparoscopically, see something big, and maybe open me up. Or just close. Maybe he won't know what to do.

Here's an argument I keep having with myself (um, not aloud):

Maybe it's all in my head, and I don't really have a problem. What if it's just related to my back pain?

Hm, back pain this bad?

Well, no, but pretty darned bad.

Back pain that involves reflux and stomach pain?

The reflux might not be related to the pain. The timing might just be coincidental. And sometimes I don't feel any.

Please, you've seen larynges damaged by painless reflux. So how do you explain the lab results?

The liver enzymes could have been from Accutane.

But Dr. D (derm) said not that high. And Dr. P (surgeon) said that numbers like 72 and 151 like right now are probably Accutane. Not 300s like during the ER visit. And what about the white blood cells?

I don't really have an explanation for that. Maybe I was fighting off a cold at the time.

Yeah, uh-huh.

It doesn't happen in relation to food. Cindy says my symptoms don't sound like hers at all. Except for the mind-numbing pain, but even that is way longer than her 30-45 minute attacks.

Good point, but since when do you do things like everyone else? Dr. P said not everyone has the attacks in conjunction with fatty meals. Some people have a less typical presentation.

If my symptoms are not typical, how can he be so sure he has identified the right problem?

Umm.. well, they are typical in general, just not down to every detail. I think Dr. P said that some people have more reflux instead of the more typical gallbladder attacks following a fatty meal. It was kind of hard to tell with his accent. And Dr. P noted the abdominal tenderness.

Yeah, in the middle. Not on the right side.

Hey, Dr. P and Dr. C (family practice doctor) both said you can have tenderness in the middle with gallbladder problems. Dad said that, too.

I'm not convinced. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. And now the money question: how can he assume it's stones and not a tumor or cyst? Just playing the odds?


Do I hear crickets chirping?

So there you have it. I don't know if I'm in denial or just being a smart health consumer.

I definitely need a blessing. Maybe I'll co-opt Julie's husband. Funny coincidence: a girl I work with turned out to be a member of the church. It's just funny that we don't work at the same schools but we ended up on the Pals team together (the team that services kiddos in private preschools and daycares). Julie's husband gave Laynie a blessing before her CI surgery, because at that time we were going to the Deaf Branch, and Laynie didn't want any of them to know about her CI. Of course, now we're going to a hearing ward, and I do have home teachers... but I don't like one of them. I know it's not his fault that he has ADHD and is kind of Aspergery (no, he's never actually said that he has anything, but it's so obvious), but I'm just not very comfortable with him. Hm. I do LOVE my other home teacher, this Jamaican guy. But I think he is a Priest, not an Elder, so he can't give a blessing. He's still pretty new to the church. Sorry, people who aren't members of the church, I've probably lost you. I'll add a couple of links that might help.

I feel badly for not liking one my home teachers. Sigh.

Oh, I guess I should answer the question of how I actually feel. Not too badly. Easily tired and getting weaker all the time. Sometimes I have a persistent pain in my right side (could be my bra). Fever all morning and afternoon, going down in the evening. I don't understand that, which drives me crazy. Why does it go down in the evening? I like to understand things. Umm... when my fever goes up, I get confused and have some processing problems (word finding, organizing language), but I haven't had that so far this week. I had a minor pain attack Friday night, lasting only an hour or two. The pain didn't get as bad as the first three attacks. I'd say it was an 8 on the old pain scale, which is much better than the big attacks, which were about 97 on a scale of 1-10. Anyway, I'm doing OK. I'm supposed to hear back from the surgeon's office today. They are trying to schedule a laparoscopic cholecystectomy for Monday or Tuesday of next week.