The Weekend ~ 11/29/13~ Preparation

tumblr_m7xdbxXmzg1rz4u3so1_1280

Well Thanksgiving has wrapped up. My attempt to cook dinner options for myself was interesting. The baked brussel sprouts and bacon were fabulous as was the gravy. The garlic mashed cauliflower well…….Let’s just say I will be vampire proof for the next decade. Way too much garlic! And Adding another head of cauliflower and a titch of cream could not save them from the recycle pile. Next time I plan on making them much simpler- Cauliflower, salt, pepper and a tiny bit of garlic herb butter. Honestly they were so jam packed full of garlic everyone at the table took a taste just to ensure the community love continued. Otherwise I was going to be unhuggable. I may have sweat garlic in my sleep last night.

Anyway the holiday has ended and the start of Hanukkah and Christmas season is upon us. For me this will be an odd season, most of it spent recuperating. The good thing is my loved ones and I quit giving gifts years ago- choosing to make it about giving time to one another not things. This season I will be getting more then my fair share- as I will need a lot of help. Something I am not the greatest at asking for. I am extremely independent. Just ask my Ex-husband who needed to assure me “it’s okay to need people. You can ask for help and still be strong”. After my back surgery he came home from work to find me on the floor, lying flat on my back rearranging the furniture in my office by pushing it around with my feet 1/8″ at a time. I thought he’d bust a vein over my folly. Eyeing me skeptically “You just couldn’t wait?”

For someone my age I’ve had lots of surgeries. Going under the knife is not a new thing for me so I was surprised when this upcoming surgery scared me like none prior. I had a fleeting moment of fear before back surgery of not walking (paranoia). My Hysterectomy was simpler. There was no fear of cancer and I didn’t need my uterus. All my knee surgeries a piece of cake except the ACL reconstruction Ugh! Let’s just say I quit skiing to avoid the possibility of a repeat. But this time I can say I am a little scared. This procedure dropped me to an entirely different level of God!- Cancer possibility and one kidney.

I was married during my back surgery and hysterectomy. The aforementioned ex was tasked with caring for me, not an easy task I assure you. Going in to these procedures I knew when it came to our life, stuff, finances, bills, I needn’t worry. I never had a thought what would happen if something went wrong. What was mine was his. He’d take care of it.

This time my roommate is my beneficiary and medical POA. If something were to happen she’d be left with a load of crap to clean up. A friend pointed out I’d be dead I wouldn’t care. But I do care now. I should have cared before. I have way to much stuff. Yes I know I express my anxiety in odd ways.

Nonetheless I’ve begun to prepare. This involved lower my bed off its risers as hoisting my body up, not probable. Next I rotated the bed to face my TV so I can prop myself up on my pillows against the wall. Lying on my side will also not be an option. I need to make sure I could easily get in and out of bed and rest as that will be my life for a few weeks. That was the easy stuff.

Next up is food prep. And if yesterday is any indication I may have some failures. With this wild and newfangled diet the best option is to precook and freeze. Things my friends or I could easily reheat. One of my friends is a trained chef so I have a serious ally there.  And she has agreed to come and help feed me especially the first few days out of the hospital. I also made a list of some of my regular foods (like Greek Yogurt) including brand and where I buy them so if I need any shopping done it will be easy for my friends to support my crazy food restrictions.

Next up I realized that all my big plans for adding holiday cards to Etsy and creating a calendar to sell this year would have to be put on hold. There is always next year. I need to figure out how to put my store on vacation (even though I’ve only had 5 sales in three years). I still want to be responsible. And if someone wanted to place and order I will be in no shape to print or ship.

Next up, I’ve begun the deeper preparation for the unthinkable “what if”. The house is in both me and my roommate’s names but she has no idea about the mortgage. I had to prepare a list of our bills and contacts, account numbers, locations and passwords. Next I began compiling a box full of any and all pertinent information she might need- The house purchase and sale agreements, the licensing and titling docs, the lawyer’s letters, the conversation with the State Department of Revenue. Account access information for my entire finances-bank accounts, brokerage accounts etc. This time I don’t have a spouse in the know. She is my DPOA so she would need to know how to gain access to my life.

And things like my unpaid car loan and medical bills bothered me. I don’t have life insurance and was certainly not going to get it now. Which meant my roommate only had my retirement assets to work from in paying things off. She would have to assume the mortgage on the house. Which I hoped wouldn’t be a problem. But I wanted to make sure she would be armed and informed if need be.

I’ve already written a Will leaving everything to my roommate but I made an addendum list. First bequeathing my fashion books, fabric and sewing machine to the school, which meant more work for my friends to deliver it. Next I prepared a box of my artwork, photos and website/Etsy info and letter of instruction for another friend to close and do with as she saw fit. I made her my official social media maven. I wrote letters requesting accounts be closed out. I cleared personal files off my work computer and cleaned out my email boxes. I wrote letters to be mailed to loved ones I was estranged from as a final goodbye. The rest of my things I told my friends to keep whatever they wanted and donate the rest. I hate how much crap I have for them to deal with. I wish I had pared my life down much earlier. And I plan to after my recovery. I will become a minimalist.

Now deeper to the next level I traveled. I took enough cash out of my bank account to pay for my cremation or any immediate incidentals until my roommate could access my money. I wish I had a prepaid plan like she had when her husband passed. That would be so easy. I suppose if you’re superstitious you might think all this energy is a bad omen, that I am inviting trouble. I certainly am not. I expect this procedure to go off without a hitch and for a speedy recovery. But I refuse to leave my life unattended just in case. I have worked in finance for 15 years and I have seen it all. Trust me preparation is love.

Next she and I sat down to discuss what I wanted. Starting with “if” its cancer and a decision needs to be made to remove the kidney? Yes just take it out. Then the hard questions- resuscitation, life support, artificial sustenance, pain meds etc. All the information she would need to make decisions if necessary on my behalf and in accordance to my directives. And I made multiple copies of all my documents so there would be no confusion that she was in charge. When your familial relationships are strained this becomes even more precarious and vital. And I had frank and candid talks with my loved ones about visiting the hospital and respecting and supporting my roommate as she is the only voice of authority on my behalf.

With all of that completed or nearly completed I am heading into surgery soon. I have no doubt I have forgotten a thing or two or ….. But I need to get in before my deductible kicks back in Jan 1st. So I snagged the last available time the surgeon had this year. This means I’ll be gone from the blog for most of December. We’ll see how quickly I bounce back.

As my friend DT has informed me there will be no missing Friday Fictioneers. She is living vicariously. I promised her I would return to it as quickly as I could. This is my last post for a while (except perhaps FF next Wednesday). Next week I am going to be eyeballs deep in pre-op and prep. My office is in code Red about my absence. Trust me the lists I need to prepare there are just as large as my personal list. And I only have a few more days to get it accomplished. To inform the powers that be of everything I have pending. I am the hub of that wheel so you might imagine my function is vital. This also means they’ve been piling it on heavy the last few weeks trying to squeeze every last ounce out of me before I go.

I’ll see you all (virtually) when I return. I can share all the changes I plan to implement in my life. Remember I said minimalist and hopefully innovative. Take Care!

 

Blast from This Blogs Past

 

The Weekend Reading List

 

Something Extra


Big Blue Wave ~ Hey Ocean

Advertisements

Happy Thanksgiving/Hanukkah

Thanksgiving Turkey Leg

Hope you are all enjoying your Thanksgiving Holiday however you’re spending it. Or perhaps you are starting by celebrating Hanukkah. For the first time in 113 years these two holidays are joining forces. So either way I know you are giving thanks. If you ask me this makes for one power packed day. So share the miracles you’ve had in your life, the blessings with one another. I say celebrate, come together and be grateful and give thanks.

Me I plan to be up to my eyeballs with friends and potluck Thanksgiving dinner. Now mind you other than the Turkey I have to make special dishes to fill in the gaps on my plate. You know by now I have ridiculous dietary restrictions. First on the list of okay to eat is the Turkey. So munch munch munch. But beyond that it’s time to get cracking. I must keep myself distracted from the other forbidden temptations like Bacon and Bourbon Pecan Pie. Yes you heard right. Pecan pie with strips of bacon laced on top.

I never did manage to completely  a Hanukkah drawing so I am lighting a visual candle instead.

Here are some of the recipes I tried making to fill up the rest of my palate.

Mashed Garlic (Parmesan) Cauliflower ~I am adding Parmesan to mine
OR Roasted Garlic Autumn Mash

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Bacon 
OR Kale and Pomegranate Salad 

Pumpkin, Coconut Maple Custard Cups or Apple Crumble perhaps a pumpkin smoothie

Lastly but not leastly Gravy

The Perfect Fit ~ #fridayfictioneers ~ 11/29

copyright-ted-strutz

Copyright – Ted Strutz

 

The Perfect Fit

“I almost missed the ferry and snagged the very last booth.”

“Because they’re the best, right Mommy?”

“Right”, Claire replied stroking Molly’s curls.

“More!”

“He asked to share and we started talking. It felt like we’d known each other forever.”

“And he pulled out a puzzle just like this.”

“Yes, just like this. Piece by piece, fitting like a glove, we knew. Neither of us wanted it to end so we rode the ferry back and forth all day.”

“Mommy?”

‘Yes Sweety?’

“And that’s how you picked out Daddy.”

Claire smiled, kissing Molly’s forehead as the ferry left the dock.
 
Word count: 100

*************************************

Here in Seattle Ferrys are common. One of my bosses once suggested I ride the ferry if I wanted to meet a man. Apparently they are quite the hot spot for matchmaking. Though as a married man I’m not sure whether to trust his intel. And as a little girl I remember asking my mom to tell me over and over again about how she met my Dad. About how they fell in love. As if that very story explained me. When I saw Ted’s photo these two thoughts collided and I imagined a perfect day riding the ferry back and forth with no care in the world other then getting to know a man I’d just met but felt like I’d known my entire life.

Hypochondria

c34407a6340313be48f3da3be6193b72-660x825

I’ve been called one. I’ve felt like one. I assure you I am definitely not a hypochondriac.

There is an upside and a down side to being overly sensitive to what is going on inside your body. The upside- you’re are the squeaky wheel when it comes to getting care. And let’s be honest no one is more concerned with your care then you are. The downside-you are aware of every squeak and creak that goes on inside of you.

Weeks ago I shared my diagnosis of SIBO, which began a life altering transition. Completely changing my relationship to food and seriously slimming my figure, no marathons necessary. Not curable but manageable I was told. After the treatment for SIBO (weeks of antibiotics) was completed I expressed still not feeling right. I continued to have other unexplained symptoms. Ones I’d been complaining of for awhile. I KNEW something was wrong. So the doctor sent me in for an ultrasound to check for an aortic aneurysm. It was thankfully negative. But what resurfaced was my Kidney cyst-originally discovered 3 years prior on a CT of my adrenals.

So perhaps I should jump backwards. Three years ago I had been getting headaches with increasing frequency. Then one morning I suddenly got double vision. It did not subside for hours so I took myself to the doc. My blood pressure was through the roof- 180/100. She ran blood tests and a 24 hour urine test. If you haven’t done one of these you simply can’t appreciate the dread. I had abnormal results. So she sent me on my merry way to an Endocrinologist.

Tumor search began. The endo searched high and low for a pituitary tumor or an adrenal gland tumor. Either one of those could explain my extremely high Cortisol. During the head MRI, Abdominal CT and Ultrasound a cyst on my kidney was incidentally discovered. It was diagnosed as a simple cyst. e.g. written off and ignored as completely normal- 50% of people have them by the time they’re 50 and they do not evolve. They are harmless and benign. So without the presence of any tumors my hormone level was presumed genetic.

During the three years in between CTs of my abdomen I had more issues arise which led to a Neck CT, Chest X-ray, fluoroscope swallowing study and ultimately to a specialist for a scope. The final determination was mild vocal cord paralysis, cause unknown. They wanted me to go to vocal therapy. I decided to take voice lessons instead. Who wouldn’t?

So back to today…. they had rediscovered my cyst. But this time the diagnosis was a complex cyst- Bosniak Class III -possible renal cell neoplasm. Huh? How exactly does a simple Cyst suddenly become a lesion with 60% possibility of being cancer? Simply, it doesn’t. It was never a simple cyst to begin with. Ah! Great. Now I’m a little pissed.

My friend Jen told me when she was diagnosed with cancer it was like the wind was knocked out of her. Everything closed in like looking at the world through a tunnel. I don’t actually know if my lesion is cancerous. But when I got the call I was instantly nauseous, my heart was racing, I felt fear like I never before and I cried all the way home from work.

I could easily land within the benign 40%. The surgical urologist said if he had to lay odds in Vegas, he’d bet benign. So that is good right?

During the two week wait before my surgical consultation I searched the internet. I read everything I could get my eyes on; my mind began to pluck pieces out of my medical history and try to arrange them like a puzzle. I looked up the words on my tests to understand them. Yes I freaked out a little.

In fairness my cousin was diagnosed with Kidney cancer 3 years ago at 43. Sounds familiar. He underwent surgery and they got it all out. He still even has part of said kidney.

I also have a family history of Von Hippel Landau disease-a genetic mutation that prevents the body from blocking certain tumor growth. Just another reason this thing must come out. My cousin with VHL has always been asymptomatic unlike her daughter. Genetically this gene trait tracks back to her father i.e. my mother’s brother, my uncle. So it is possible I have the mutation as well. And renal cell carcinoma is one of the malignant developments from VHL and one of the leading causes of death in VHL patients. If my mother is a carrier then the odds that I am VHL positive are 50/50- a big unknown without testing. So I called the national VHL organization who pointed me to a clinical care center at UW hospital that does the genetic testing for VHL. And since I don’t know what it will cost (BRCA testing produced a $6000 price tag I couldn’t entertain) I plan to wait to explore it further.

A quick side rant. This morning I saw on the news that the FDA is blocking the sale of the 23andme genetic kits. They cite that the accuracy of the results can not be confirmed. And worry that women will undergo unnecessary medical procedures based on false results. They are concerned with the marketing approach and the fact that the company sidesteps health professionals. And we wouldn’t want that right? I suspect big pharmaceuticals aren’t happy competing  with a  $99 price tag and are applying pressure. But that’s the conspiracy theorist in me. Remember the aforementioned $6000 BRCA price tag. Let’s see if my insurance and medical can bring the test cost down to $99. Because I could use a cost effective test for VHL and BRCA. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I took the test through 23andme and was BRCA positive I’d get a second opinion before undergoing a preventative double mastectomy. Information is power and should be readily available. Admittedly I’m highly biased as in my case it could be a matter of life and death.

Okay back to my very real issue at hand. Surgery was the Urologist’s recommendation. Yes, please take this thing out!  I underwent another round of testing, MRI, Chest X-ray, and meeting a new Endocrinologist. Due to my cortisol they have to coordinate on how best to treat me during the procedure so my BP doesn’t jump into heart attack zone.  And because of the tricky location of my little lump they can’t go in minimally invasive. They need to open me up in order to have the best chance of saving as much of my kidney as possible. Which is fine with me, I’m a little attached to it.

And on top of all this my gynecologist ordered a biopsy of my pesky breast lump. It’s been hanging around for years, palpable but invisible to scans. But apparently it’s time for it to come out as well. How many other shoes is that?

So what does all this mean? I really wish I had access to low cost genetic testing and I’ll be gone from the blog for most of December.

Weekend ~ 11/22/13 ~ A Line Was Drawn (poem)

Alice-in-Wonderland-Grace-Coddington-Annie-Liebovitz-Curiouser-and-Curiouser

Another cryptic and tight-lipped weekend update. I still haven’t spilled the beans to all interested and important people in my life. This means you all will have to wait a little longer for my what’s update.

I have a short story I have been working on and hope to eventually post for feedback. I have had some editing help and there is more flushing out to do. So in the interim here is a double Etheree I wrote inspired by Michael Drainsfield’s poem ‘After a birthday’.

See you on Monday. I hope (no promises) to give my fellow fictioneers the reading attention they so rightly deserve. Thanks for baring with me as of late.

 

A Line Was Drawn

That fateful night a line was drawn in dirt

Like the hedge between our properties

Cricket song giving way to cries

Splayed among the golden wheat

retreat executed

Humpty Dumpty’s Wall

Cast asunder

Tears falling

Endless

time

Drawn

From a

Single spot

Upon me cheek

Swept to the wayside

Lay Echoes of childhood

Marking innocence lost as

The warm summer’s night closes in

Trembling memories of youth gone astray

A line drawn demarcating yesterday

by ~DCT
 

Blast from This Blogs Past

 

The Weekend Reading List

 

Something Extra

Don’t Know Why ~ Norah Jones

 
Image: Annie Liebowitz & Grace Coddington Alice in Wonderland spread, curiouser and curiouser