Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How I'm Spending My Summer

Since we last left this story... a restraining order was put in place that prevents me from giving further details about the aforementioned situation. Suffice it to say that proper steps have been taken to resolve the issue to our satisfaction. I'll update when I'm at liberty to do so.

In the meantime... Big Brother started again this Summer and again, I'm using it as a diversion. So far I'm partial to the returning players, especially Nicole.

I've been enjoying my nieces having a cellphone. Nothing beats getting random, "I love you" texts from my favorite redheads. I recorded the musical Hairspray for them the other day. I've got to watch it through again to scan for inappropriate parts but I think it's pretty innocent. I mean, as innocent as segregation can be.

Our blackberry bush is still producing fruit and I've been loving fresh picked blackberries with honey on my yogurt in the morning. My fig bush is starting to bear fruit. It did this last year and they all dropped off before maturity. I'm hopeful that this is THE YEAR it starts making edible figs. I love figs and you can hardly ever find fresh figs in the stores here. I'm still enjoying fresh cherries in stores and ... watermelon is so good right now. I'm a fruit fiend.

Mom just brought down some green beans she picked from the garden today and cooked this afternoon. That was dinner and that was enough! They were so good! Now I'm ready for some home grown tomatoes and cucumbers. I may have to visit the farmstand tomorrow.

Still diligently working on my Italian. I use the Duolingo app. I've learned all the words in it so I just do a review every day. I have done it 168 days in a row! I am using Memrise.com which is also free but has parts that you can pay for (I paid $19 for three months to upgrade my program - a bargain compared to most language learning programs). According to memrise.com I'm up to 2400 words of Italian memorized. I'm... ok with looking at a picture or English word and knowing the Italian word for it. I'm ok at looking at an Italian word and knowing the English translation. I'm not good at putting together sentences. The sentence structure is in a different order than English. I can read newspapers and websites in Italian and understand about half of what it says and can sort of figure it out. I can't listen to someone speak in Italian and keep up yet. I believe learning a foreign language is a good way to keep your mind stimulated and it's a great distraction for me.

Then there was the appointment I had yesterday that I thought I might be running late for... I called and let them know that I thought I could make it but was afraid school traffic might slow me down. That's right... school traffic. At the end of June. When school is out. I was so embarrassed when she said, "is there school in session today?" Nope. No, there isn't. It's just my out-of-touch brain. We had a good laugh about it when I had to go back to their office today. I confided that I was just a month post-hysterectomy and that I was having a little post-anesthesia/post-missing parts brain fog. She's having one soon so she was sympathetic. I should give her my blog link...

Our new deck is coming along nicely. The new stairs went up today. Still no rails around it so it's too scary for me. I am becoming a pro at backing out of the driveway with the big red dumpster in the corner and assorted pickup trucks scattered around. The guys who are building it are super nice... father/son/grandson. They start up around 7am some days but we're all mostly awake by then so it hasn't been bothersome at all.

Pain wise my post surgery healing is going nicely. Much improved since last week. Not holding things that are too heavy for me has helped, I'm sure, but my heart is heavy enough to make up for it. Stress does a number on pain sufferers and the humidity has been way too high. I've also done more physical things this week that have been necessary to resolve our situation but I can feel the extra activity in my pain levels. To summarize: my body hurts but it's ok.

I wore my fancy Tiek shoes to an appointment yesterday and they made me feel ten feet tall and bullet proof. My sister-in-law Helen (who gifted them to me) said they are my "power shoes". Every girl needs a pair of shoes that make her feel invincible... so grateful for mine!

Counting down the days until I can find my way back down to visit with Oliver. I facetimed him the other day and love when he recognizes me. He's just too beautiful for words. Of course, Austin and I both find ourselves breaking down whenever we see a baby... but we can't talk about that right now. The beginning of July is full of things that require my attention and then my dad is going out of town, which will require me to be around to transport Austin back and forth to work. The way it's looking, it may be August before I can squeeze in an overnight... or it will be just a short visit. At any rate... I need to snuggle that kid SOON!

I know there have been lots of crazy comments added to my blog and I know you guys know me and my kid well enough to sort those out. I feel like it's in our best interest leave them for now but it's all good. He's a good man, a hard worker and most importantly a great father and I have never been prouder of him than I have been in this past week. I'm pretty durn proud of y'all too. My blogger babes and mother hens are the best. Y'all give me strength in more ways than you know. We've got this, y'all.

Love and hugs and happy Summer! I promise to add pictures next time!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

And Now You Know... The Rest of the Story

It's been about two years since my son got with his baby mama. I'm not saying her name. She was previously married but they divorced because he didn't want to have a child with her. Austin was happy to reconnect with someone who "got" him and didn't realize that she had one goal in mind: make a baby. When she turned up pregnant two months into their relationship I was... concerned. She had not impressed me much when they dated in high school. Austin was nowhere near ready to be a father. Neither one of them had a job. As much as I wanted grandchildren, I wanted my children to be ready to be parents before that happened. I was still a year away from my disability decision and was in no position to help with the financial responsibility of a baby. But I sucked it up... did what I had to... made sure I went to doctor's appointments, even when we had to see a specialist due to the baby mama's obesity putting the baby at a higher risk and that specialist was an hour away. I gave her clothes to wear when we couldn't find maternity clothes in her size. I literally opened my closet door and said, "take whatever you can use". I had no money so I gave her the clothes off of my back.

Although their relationship was always rocky at best... I was committed.  Let me say this about commitment: I don't do it. I've had so many bad relationships. So many disappointments. I'm very introverted and I keep to myself. Pain makes it hard to feel like socializing. It's hard to explain to people that you don't feel like doing this, that or the other thing. Pain uses up all your "give-a-darns" so that you don't tolerate people's quirks. But this baby... was my baby's baby... and I love my children fiercely. So I did everything I could to get along with the baby mama. I tolerated her rude mother. We rescued Austin more than once from the chaos of their home. When baby mama doesn't get her way she gets crazy. She blocked him in her room more than once. Her father threatened to shoot him for screaming that she had him trapped in her room. You would not believe the craziness that my son tolerated trying to be there for his child.

About two weeks before the baby's due date there was some drama about something and baby mama didn't get her way. She threatened to kill herself and the baby if Austin didn't do what she wanted. He caved in... but we feared for this baby. When we saw the doctor the next week we begged for her to be induced. I was so afraid that something would happen to the baby. I was so afraid that something would happen to Austin or that he would lose his cool with her.

So the baby came and I fell in love. Austin had found a job and worked hard to provide for his child - and her mama. He has never, even to this day, missed a single day of work. He worked hard to be promoted from part-time to full-time. He indulged his child and her mom... and paid her parents for rides to work and for rent and even had to pay when they went out to eat. Her family has had it in their mind since day one that we have money. My parents have a very hard earned retirement income. I have a very hard fought disability award. But we have all worked hard to have what we have. When the living situation at her parents' house became unliveable, my parents agreed to let them live here. I knew it was a bad idea.

After my children were born, I returned to full-time work as soon I was able. I would have loved the luxury of being a full time mom. But my responsibility to provide a home and insurance for my children meant leaving them during the day. If I had been able to stay home, I would have loved it but it wasn't financially feasible. I finally had to stop working when Austin was almost 3 because his autism diagnosis but as soon as his father and I split up, I returned to work. I worked more than one job. I did whatever I had to do to take care of my kids and I continued to do that until my body would no longer allow it. To me... Austin's salary did not permit his child's mom to be a stay-at-home mom but she refused (refuses) to work. And she constantly complains about the amount of money he makes and how he spends it and ultimately that was the end of their relationship. I'm skipping some details.

The selfishness and tantrums continued after they moved to our house. The fights were horrendous and we all lived on edge. I worried about my grandchild every time there was a fight. Every time Austin had a day off there would be a fight. Nothing he did was ever right. Or enough. He came in from work every day and immediately was expected to help with the baby. On his days off he was expected to get up early with the baby. I would often volunteer to take her so that he could sleep. I fought for him all through childhood to keep him from being bullied and here we had a bully who had moved into our house. She wanted the best and most expensive everything. If money ran short, Austin was supposed to cut back on his expenses. It was never even a possibility that she go to work. I helped quite a bit but she never dressed the baby in clothes unless she picked them out herself. I spent lots of money helping them out... even bought nursing bras for mama... took her out to eat often... indulged her every whim. Until the time that she called me selfish. Remember... I literally gave her the clothes out of my closet and I was selfish. My family opened their home to her. I spent hours watching the baby while she sat and stared at her phone. There are a lot of things you can call me but selfish is not one.

There are so many things that have happened, stories that you wouldn't even believe. The fact that she was mad that Ollie was on the way because she wanted "her baby" to be the only grandchild for longer. On Christmas Eve when Austin ended up stuck at work all day and then Pop left for the Christmas Eve service right around the time Austin  got home and she wanted us to open presents without Pop rather than delay the baby's bath time by an hour. The time she slapped Austin and left a nasty handprint on his face because he had lunch with a friend. Not a romantic interest, just a girl he knew at work in a platonic way. And her mother kept instigating things... telling her that he was cheating. He wasn't but if he did, who could blame him? I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "You'll never see this baby again" from either her or her mother to me, Austin, my parents.

The baby has been her pawn all of this time... her way of making people do what she wants. We've tolerated her so that we could keep the baby close by and safe. A few months ago Austin asked her to spend the night at her parents occasionally so he could have a break from the constant demands (of the mother, not the baby). He has been so done with this relationship... so over being mistreated and unappreciated and falsely accused. Finally last week she told him she was "putting her foot down" and insisting that he change his spending habits. He told her she had to go. She moved out last weekend and I knew that things were not looking good for our relationship with the baby. I brought them here earlier this week but she harassed Austin to the point that he had to block her on his phone. He had an account set up for her to move money into each week for the baby's needs from his primary checking account, agreeing to pay $100 a week into it (which, he works for a grocery store, that's a big chunk of his take home pay AND more than enough for a breastfed baby who gets WIC). He changed the password so that baby mama couldn't access his main checking account where his paycheck is deposited and she flipped out. We had arranged for Austin to spend time with the baby today and the mother refused to let him see her without HER so we agreed to go out to lunch with mom and baby but stipulated that we were not going to discuss the bank account or their relationship and just let Austin have time with his baby. Poor girl... she was so glad to see her daddy and curled up beside him in the booth and just loved on him. We all miss her so much.

Anyways... so mama decides that she IS going to discuss the bank account and whether or not Austin is dating anyone else while we're at lunch. He's talking to people but... I mean... he has been over this relationship and feeling down on himself for so long... he's just eager to have someone be NICE to him for a change. Austin got mad and left the restaurant and went to sit in the car. I tried to calmly talk to the mother about what the law requires and doesn't require. Her idea is that Austin should only have visitation that SHE supervises, at her will. She also believes that whenever Austin would see the baby on holidays that she should also be included because it's HER child and she deserves to be involved in everything she does.

So much... so many details but ... I needed to say all of that to say this... on the way home from lunch the baby's mama went into another one of her tantrums over the fact that Austin had blocked her from his phone. We pulled up in her driveway and she refused to get out of the car. I got the baby out (it's really hot here now) and took her to the shade. I told Austin to start videotaping. The mother charged out of the car toward Austin like a deranged rhino and hit him in the face. Her momentum and him deflecting her assault propelled her to the ground and she scraped her arm and knocked his phone out of his hand. She came and grabbed the baby from me and threw my sunglasses that the baby had in her hand at me and told me I would never see the baby again (again).

When we left I told Austin to call the police and file a report because there have been so many occasions of her behaving in that unstable manner and we really needed to prove why she, of all people, should not supervise Austin's visitation with the baby. At the same time the mother was calling the police to file charges against Austin for assault... for her tumble to the ground when she attacked him. The sheriff's officer who came to our house contacted the sheriff's at her house to let them know about the video. They asked us to follow them to her house with the phone. They took the phone in and showed the mother why HE was not going to be arrested because SHE had initiated the situation. Unfortunately, when he dropped the phone it kept it from showing where she actually made contact with his face so they couldn't arrest her either. They came back out and told Austin that he needed to get a lawyer and sue for parental rights. We left there and he removed all but $80 out of the account because that's more than enough for a 14 month old child for a week as she is breastfed and on WIC. The mother went nuts and started texting me, calling me, sending me facebook messages and finally, posting on my facebook page. I've gotten several messages from people who are concerned and so I knew I needed to explain the rest of the story here.

She has since filed a restraining order against Austin (which is great, he doesn't want her anywhere near him anyways) and has made a demand that I remove all photos of my grandchild from social media. I'll have to be told that by a judge before I do.

This has, as you can imagine, all been very stressful for all of us. Because they aren't married it will require a DNA test and a court order for Austin to receive visitation priviledges. It also means that she will need a DNA test and a court order to require him to pay child support. Works both ways but that hasn't quite sunken in for her yet. She played her hand too often and we just have nothing left to lose. The things that I haven't blogged about to be able to keep things peaceful, I can now say. And so I have. Thanks in advance for your love and support. I'm exhausted.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Post Op Check and Our New Porch

Today I straightened my hair. Haven't done that the past few washes. Which is like... weeks... because I only wash my hair once a week. You may think it sounds gross but it really isn't because I'm like... indoors 99% of the time. It keeps my hair healthier. This was totally NOT the point of this blog. I did my hair, I put on makeup, I naired my legs and I wore a dress to go to the prom my post-surgical re-check at the GYN doctor. Living la vida loca, y'all! I did at least get a "you look fabulous" out of the doctor but, honestly, compared to seeing me naked, unconscious and upside down anything would look better, wouldn't it? Sorry for creating that mental image. Really sorry.

Austin was off today for the first time since Tasha and Cosette moved out. We knew I was going to be at the doctor so he didn't plan to see the baby. Things are just really, increasingly unpleasant and it's quite stressful. Not my story. Not my story. Not my story. Trying not to blog things about it. Tasha and Cosette did come over yesterday and hung out for an hour or so which was nice because Sarabeth and Jamie spent the day with me. Cosette loves her "big cousins" quite a lot so she enjoyed seeing them. Austin was at work so he missed out.

Again, not my story, but most people get it... if you're not getting along well enough to live in the same house, you're not going to get along well enough to have casual conversation... or even meaningful conversation about your child because your own personal stuff can't help but get in the way, whether it be hurt or frustration or anger or misunderstanding or whatever happens to be the case. Not saying any of that is the case here, necessarily. Just that it's awkward. Everything that is an issue gets magnified when you take away the cushion of "I love this person and don't want to fight with them". The stakes are higher. The stress level is higher. Especially for the mom who loves her son and understands him... and loves her granddaughter and wants to keep the line of communication and visitation open with her. Stressful.

My doctor visit was mostly ok. One incision out of the three isn't healing well but the part that isn't healing is the top, outer level, which is better than it being all the way through. There was a lot of pushing and pulling involved in determining how it was healing so that was rather unpleasant. It was hot outside. The doctor said I shouldn't be holding babies yet ...oops! And he said to give it another two weeks before trying the baby holding thing. He said that after major surgery, with all the extra energy your body uses to heal, you can expect to be randomly tired for up to several months. I didn't mention that I've been randomly tired for the past five years all of my adult life. At least for now I can blame it on the surgery.

We're having one of the upstairs decks rebuilt into a nice screened porch. The work for that started today. I've taken lots of before pictures but I'm only posting one for now.


 After one day of work. It looks like all they've done is take off the rails but they actually took off all the boards down to the shed. 

I'm particularly fond of the big red dumpster they're using for the project. Isn't it lovely? As if our driveway wasn't hard enough to back up in.
Today for dinner we had Captain D's. Fish burps. Ugh. 

Summer is a good time for this sort of project because the trees around our property kind of make us isolated. For instance... I had to go way to the corner of the yard to catch our neighbors across the lake. Can you see the house across the lake? Right there in the middle. They are part-timers. They live in Florida and are only here occasionally and briefly. When they're here they're noisy and obnoxious and get out on the dock at night. Otherwise, they're good neighbors. When they're gone. 
Austin came home with a new tattoo. It's a heart with "Cozy" in the middle. Austin and Tasha abbreviate Cosette as "Cozy" not "Cosy" like I do. Whatever. Still pretty darn sweet of him to get a tattoo with his daughter's name. He loves her very much and misses her terribly. He just couldn't handle the constant conflict between him and Tasha. And honestly, it was really hard on my parents hearing a lot of fighting going on because Gant's tend to be non-confrontational and don't raise voices except to sing or laugh or when my dad sneezes and scares the cat who, when startled, sinks his claws into my belly, which is already tender and THEN I yell. But not loudly. A few times I made the mistake of getting in the middle of things with Austin and Tasha and I finally had to stop. If Cosette can't grow up in a house with both of her parents, then I at least want her to grow up having peace in her life. She is loved, so deeply loved. We just have to make sure she always knows that.

Ok. That's it for tonight. Love and hugs! 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

This Past Week

What a crazy emotional week this past week has been! The shooting in Orlando... then the tragic death of the little boy at Disney... and my granddaughter and her mom moved out of our house.

It's a strange thing, this being a "paternal" grandmother... it's like you don't have the same security in the relationship with your sons' children as you do your daughters'. Like the old saying, "a son's a son until he takes a wife but a daughter's your daughter the rest of your life." Fathers have fewer rights and Austin's role has always been to be the breadwinner, which he has done faithfully. Tasha has been a full time mom and she and Cosy are very strongly bonded, meaning that of course, it makes sense that Cosette would go with her mom if/when the relationship fractured. Austin and Tasha's relationship has been rocky, for quite some time and it's always been in the back of my mind that our bond with Cosette could be difficult to maintain if things ended badly.

Initially, long before she was born, I worried about being involved in her life and one day losing our ability to see her. Having loved and lost, as far as my brother's children are concerned, I know how painful it is as an Aunt to lose contact. I don't handle loss well. Or more accurately, I don't put myself in the position to suffer loss any more because of my brother and... well, men in general. Of course, I loved Cosy long before she got here and have loved her intensely all of her little life, from the moment I heard her first cry through the door of the hospital room where she was born. I was willing to take the risk of loving her, to enjoy every moment I had with her and never take for granted the opportunity to be her Nana. I've worked hard to be a friend to Tasha and to support her as a mother as much as I could. Right now, I feel like Tasha and I have a bond independent of her and Austin and I'm hopeful that she will voluntarily continue to allow us to spend time with Cosy. Obviously, it's not the same as having her here, hearing her call, "Nana" from her highchair and spending afternoons playing on the floor with her. Her little toys are still scattered around my living room and I'm hopeful that she will still be over to visit them (and me) often. 

I have a lot of residual guilt that my sons aren't close to their paternal grandmother. I mean, when I "logic it out," I realize that there wasn't much I could do. She didn't really bother with them much. Their dad didn't (doesn't) have any relationship with his mom so for the most part it wasn't as if he was taking them to her house. There were real issues that I had to protect my children from where she was concerned. Her husband was a bad man. He is in jail for kidnapping and beating my ex-mother-in-law's step-mother to within an inch of her life. He was involved with drugs, to the extent that there was a raid on their house while Ryan was there. These are obviously not concerns that Tasha would have with Cosette being here. Our house is safe. Austin and I have an extremely close bond. When he spends time with Cosy, I'll spend time with Cosy. She's just down the street. We can do this. Tasha's parents are crazy about Cosy, too, and I know they will take good care of her.

But still... when I held her yesterday while Tasha and her dad loaded up their stuff... I whispered in her ear, "I will always be your Nana and I will always love you, " which is the same thing I told her the first time I held her. I took pictures of us together even though I was definitely not looking my best. Rolling around on the floor with a toddler when you're not quite a month out from major surgery... it's not pretty. I made sure to take her outside to pick blackberries like we've don't every day here recently. I was hot and sweaty and frizzy and... yet, I still wanted to record those memories.

Cosette is smart as a whip and remembers stuff like... the other day it was raining so we stood in the shed and I stuck my hand out to feel the rain. She stuck hers out and when it got wet she pulled it back under the shed and then reached back out to pull mine in too. Everyday since then, when we walk through the shed to get to the backyard she reaches her hand out first to see if it's raining. She remembers which flowers we can pick (clover and wildflowers) and which ones we can't (roses). She knows which button on my remote control turns on Netflix, which is where we can find Sofia the First. We play with the same toys when she is with me... we have tea parties and blow bubbles. She knows to hold her hand out flat to show the cats she will touch them "soft". She makes the same clicking sound to call the cats that I do and she pats beside her where she wants them to sit, just like me. We use empty toilet paper rolls like a trumpet and do a little fanfare sound and I say, "introducing... Cosette... Sauls..." she can't quite copy the sound but she tries and the other day she said, "ette"... trying to say "Cosette". She has legitimate memories with me and I want her to be here often enough to still remember the things we do and to make even more memories.

Cosy and Austin - sleeping in the exact same position
I know with my niece Sarabeth who I saw - not that frequently when she was little because we lived 100 miles apart - would remember the special things I did with her like let her have my sunglasses and put on "glip gloss". Jamie did too, although I've lived nearby since Jamie was three so she's used to having me nearby. I know I don't have to see Cosy everyday to be her Nana but I'm going to miss seeing her every day, just like I wish I could be with Oliver every day. Ollie knows me when he sees me and it doesn't take him long to remember the things we do... like blow raspberries and make car sounds.

It's all very selfish of me, of course. I know the most important thing is for Cosy to remain bonded with her daddy, who works an awful lot and who doesn't always handle transitions well. I know it's a bigger issue for Tasha to take on more responsibility. And it's important for Cosy to know she is loved by all of us, on both sides of the family. Truly, I know this isn't about me. And, like I said when I started this, this week has been so tragic for so many. I know there are people with much larger concerns. I know that God already knows what every day in her life will be like and I know He isn't the least bit surprised by this turn of events. He's got this. We've got this.

On a happy note...I've been snagging photos from the past week from Vacation Bible School that I thought I'd share...

Sarabeth (r) and my adopted niece Jorjanne, leading a drama at VBS. They're so grown!

 My dad teaching a class of rowdy boys.

My niece Jamie in her last year of attending bible school. Next year she'll be a helper! She's on the second row, far right, in case you can't tell!

Pictures of Cosy in her first bikini:

Enjoy that figure while you can, baby girl... 

And I snagged this photo off Facebook today... it's "downtown" Cleveland, the main town square. I love that it shows how small and quaint and picturesque our little town is. 

I've been up since 1am. Just one of those nights where the pain wouldn't let me sleep and the cats didn't help much. I was hoping for an early bedtime and we're already at 9pm and fading fast. At any rate... Hang in there, folks. Life has been a bit of a bumpy ride and we still have the election to get through... I just keep reminding myself that God is still God. I'm gonna let Him take over some of the worrying for awhile.

We start our big renovation tomorrow... taking down the old shed and deck above it and replacing with a sturdy shed and a lovely covered porch above for my mom's "outdoor living room". It's going to be noisy and dusty but hopefully, it will come out looking better than ever. I hope we all will too. 
Love and hugs, y'all! 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

So You're Having A Hysterectomy.... My Robotic Hysterectomy

I got a Facebook message from an old friend who is facing a hysterectomy next week and asked if I had any tips. I started responding and as it grew into a longer and longer paragraph I realized it might make a good blog post for those who wanted more info to prepare for their own...and for folks who wanted to know more about how mine went. So here's my response to my friend...

Yikes! I mean, congratulations! Everybody who has had one told me it was "the best thing ever". I'm not quite there yet but I'm glad it's in the rearview mirror. It was definitely time for me to have it done but I can't say that I was excited about it.

So... tips... do you know what kind you're having? I had a robotic hysterectomy which is much like a laproscopic one but the doctor is using a video game set up to control the instruments around the corner from your body instead of being right there with you. My doctor said he found that particular surgical method gave him more control over things than any other surgical method and it was preferred for me because I'm thinner higher up and thicker around the hips...

I have three incisions, one in my belly button and one to each side of it. The incisions hurt more now than they did originally... just that healing phase where they're itchy and the glue that they use (instead of stitches) is peeling off. My waistbands all catch right in that area so... annoying but not terrible. Maybe plan for higher/lower waistbands or none at all if you can.

My greatest fear was the position they use for surgery - they tilt your head down lower than your belly and sort of hang you by your legs. If you're not having a robotic hysterectomy this won't apply but for me... and anyone who has migraines.... that is a scary thing. I talked about it to my anesthesiologist and he promised me he knew how to make it so that I was comfortable and honestly, it was fine. I haven't had a migraine since the surgery and I usually have them 2 or 3 times a week so that's huge. I have heard that the head down position can be bothersome for people who wear contacts because the extra pressure dries out your eyes so maybe take some eyedrops with you if that could be a problem.

I was worried about being nauseous from the surgery and I wasn't... until about the third or fourth day home which coincided with when my anti-nausea patch came off. So if you're prone to nausea, ask for one of those. I did have to take anti-nausea stuff for a week or so to help with that. It may not be an issue for you but I have sort of a fickle stomach even on good days.

Because I'm a chronic pain sufferer my doctor worried that pain control would be a problem. Initially waking up from surgery, I was in horrible pain and they gave me morphine and I was golden... until they moved me to my room and then they gave me... demerol which was also great... I was all sunshine and unicorns until later that evening when they switched me to a percocet / hydrocodone rotation which only worked when it was given on time and it wasn't. 

The night nurses sucked. I was by myself because there wasn't anyone who could easily stay with me and I tend to introvert when I don't feel well so I didn't want to have to feel like I had to entertain anyone. As it turned out, I had a catheter and couldn't move to get even the basic things...like tissues when I was bawling because the nurse was an hour late with the pain meds... so if someone can stay with you, I think it would make it easier. 

My surgery was at 1pm and they kept me overnight, which I was prepared for. I wasn't prepared to stay awake all night but that's what happened. Originally when they moved me to my room they said they were going to take out my catheter and let me start walking around at 7pm that night and then shift change happened and the new nurse was not down with that plan and honestly, I think life would have been so much easier if they had stuck to that plan. It was a long night. I didn't sleep one tiny bit, despite being given sleeping meds because... I've been on sleeping meds for years and the ones I normally take are much stronger than what they gave me because my blood pressure was low and they were afraid to give me anything strong. Seriously, that night sucked. I prayed a lot that night and most of it was asking God to get that lazy $%^& nurse to my room with my pain meds!

The next morning I was chomping at the bit to get out...my doctor came by and said I just had to be able to pee and I could go. So... I texted my dad and he headed right down to pick me up. Big mistake. The whole "need to pee" thing was greatly understated. They wanted me to produce 200ml of pee to be able to go. After four hours and two entire liters of water, I was still at 100ml and that was after splashing a little water into the pot to add to it. My dad was sitting there missing his tee time and growing more aggravated by the minute. I finally said to the nurse, "I'm sure my bladder is empty, is there a way to check?" and there was, so she did and it was... completely empty. I was major swollen because my body absorbs a lot of water and narcotics make that worse so... if making pee is one of your conditions for release, make sure you keep that whole bladder scan thing in your box of tricks in case you need it. 

Once I got home I stayed on top of the pain med rotation and just slept. Because of my back I sleep in a big cozy recliner and that's where I camped out am still camping out here at Day 17. After about a week I was down to one dose or two of pain meds a day (keep in mind that I take a normal daily dose of ultram/tramadol for my everyday pain needs which means that I'm technically still taking pain meds but also means that you're going to probably need far less, for less time, fingers crossed!) 

After about ten days I felt well enough to hold Cosette and Oliver who are around 18 pounds each. NOOOOO... of course I haven't held Cosette and Oliver yet.... *wink*... not for long, anyways. Honestly, I can hold them for a minute without being uncomfortable and have played on the floor with both of them with no problem at all. Well, other than getting up but that's always a problem! Still totally worth it!

It took me a good two weeks to get my appetite back, which is what I experienced before with abdominal surgery. I think it's just because your innards are moved around. I was eating but not really much at a time and then all of a sudden I was STARVING. I weighed after one week and was down seven pounds even with the extra bloating/gas so either my uterus was a big old rock or I really cut back on what I was eating.

I had stocked up on the big giant post-birth type pads which (sorry for the TMI folks) I really didn't need except for the first day, truly. 

One thing that helped me a lot during the first few days was the standard, over the counter Azo Standard pills - the ones that make your pee orange - because the pain I had was more crampy than pain and it felt more bladder-ish than anything. The Azo-standards helped enormously. 

Also... gas is a real issue because if they do anything laproscopically they pump you full of gas to give them more room to work so... that gas must go somewhere... so... gas-x is your friend. Don't be embarrassed to toot. They may make you do that before leaving the hospital too. My dr asked if I had but didn't require proof, fortunately. 

Also, pain meds make you terribly constipated so you want to be on some kind of fiber stuff. I love the fiber gummies. The first poop feels like your insides are being ripped out but it passes. Also, for a little added fun I got really pukey sick at day ten-ish and let me tell you, throwing up when your belly is glued together is not for the weak. It hurt a lot. 

I am fortunate to live with my parents who do all the cooking... and I have a stair lift because of my back so I don't have to climb stairs. Both things helped me a lot. IF there's a way for you to just take it easy and not do stairs, that will help. 

I started driving again on day 13 and honestly, it did hurt a little bit. You don't realize how much you use your gut muscles when you drive. 

I went to the grocery store on day 14 which... would have been better if I wasn't in White County because I got cornered in the dairy section by a lady who had asked Austin for some help with locating things in the store and she wanted to ask me a lot of extra questions about things like, "is the organic produce here any good?" and things that I didn't know/didn't care to talk about, especially if it meant standing for extra minutes. Just because my kids works in the meat department doesn't mean I know all about the produce section but... whatever. The point is... I was ok to be out and about a little bit but standing for a long time got uncomfortable and still, probably here at day 17 is still true. 

I know there are sometimes hormonal issues even if they leave your ovaries. They say they can be sort of shocked by parting company with your uterus and just not work for a bit. They left me one but weren't sure how much "juice" (doctor's word) it has left in it. I don't think I've been any more hormonal than usual but I did have a good cry on my dad the other day that threw him for a loop, so maybe. 

I didn't have any concern about future fertility because... I'm nearly 50 and single and all of that but then the check out girl at Ingles the other day gave me a coupon for baby formula and said, "maybe this means you'll have another baby!" and for the first time I thought... hmm... nope. No possible way. But really, there's been no possible way since my tubes were tied in 1995 and then since my uterine ablation in 2008 and definitely since I'm like... single and celibate... but. It was weird. 

Anyways... I pray that all goes well with you and I hope this has been helpful in some way. If you have any questions, I'm glad to share from my experience. Don't watch Youtube videos of hysterectomies. I promise, that will not make you feel any better about things! I am truly glad it's over and I do feel better every day but still kind of have to remind myself that I'm not ten feet tall and bullet proof when I get a little boost of energy.

Love and hugs!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Past Month

Good news! I survived! My surgery on May 25th  - two weeks ago tomorrow - was a whopping success. I mean, I guess it was a success in that I left there uterus-less and did not die from being held upside down. There were some dramatic moments such as a "must empty bladder to leave hospital" decree that had me arguing with nurses for four hours over 100ccs of urine. I won the draw when I said, "do you have one of those scanners that can tell if my bladder is empty? Go get it.". Once they realized that 100ccs was indeed, all of the urine my bladder had contained after drinking two liters of water (this is not my typical exaggeration) they agreed to release me. I had one nurse who was so precious to me that she returned on day two of my stay despite passing kidney stones... and one who was so evil that I called her "evil" when I filed a complaint, less than a half hour after coming out of anesthesia. Even when I'm down and out, I'm still sharper than most. Her mistake was to bypass giving me the ordered post-operative medications because - in her words - I am a "chronic pain patient and nothing will touch her pain anyways". I was awake. And heard. And demanded to be treated appropriately (I was, with morphine and yes, it did work) and asked for her supervisor.... who held my hands in hers and explained that I had "such very low blood pressure" that they were waiting as long as they could to give me pain medicine. Whatevs. So... yes. That was two weeks ago. And I am (as of today) driving and mostly back to normal. There's one little spot that isn't healing as pretty as I would like but... it's not like I'm going to ever wear a bikini again (you're welcome) so... it's ok. That being held upside down thing - they really do hang you by your legs in stirrups with your head at about 45 degrees lower than your body. Something about gravity moving the other organs out of the way. It was my greatest fear, even greater than fearing pain. I mean, because there is more of a gravitational pull on me, if you get what I mean... My anesthesiologist promised that he would keep me alive and he did so... there's that.

I've had LOTS of time to keep up on current events and we're in a sorry state of things, for sure. I've had lots of pain meds but not so many that it blurred my eyes to the daunting reality of a President Clinton or President Trump. I've never been a Trump fan but I've said that I would never ever ever vote for a Clinton. Or a Democrat. But especially a Clinton. Then Trump had to get out there and malign that judge with his Mexican heritage. The thing is... this little boy who holds a huge chunk of my heart in his beautiful chunky tan fingers is also of Mexican heritage... proud, legal, strong, responsible, good, GOOD heritage... the hard working, tax paying, college educating, loving my son like he was one of them Mexicans... the Mexicans who were here before we were kind of heritage... would a President Trump think less of my sweet Oliver because of this? There are two things you don't mess with... my money and my children... which now extends even greater to my grandchildren... and anyone who would think less of Oliver could never get my vote. I told Austin this morning that I would vote for Ugly Baby before I would vote for Clinton but... aaarrrrgh Donald Trump! Your big stupid mouth!

Ugly Baby is a doll that my aunt Ginger sent up for Cosette, out of her large... LARGE doll collection. It's a really ugly doll who makes a odd squeak when you move her arm. She kind of scared Cosy at first but I told her that even ugly babies need love so she is now in the growing line of dolls that Cosette must cuddle and then pass around for mommy, Mawmaw and Nana to also hug when Cosy's playing down in Nana's "house". I got such a laugh watching Ollie play with Cosy's toys last weekend. Cosette was on a church picnic with her mom so the babies didn't get to play together but Ollie played with Cosy's toys. Where Cosy would have "given a love" to the babies, Ollie dragged them around by their hair or the hem of their clothes. Where she would never go to the side of the hearth where there is no padding because the stuffed gorilla is there... Ollie had no fear. Ollie loved playing ball and blowing bubbles and playing her leapfrog bus. It was surreal to have a different child with the same toys. The babies will not likely be together again until Oliver's birthday in July.  It will be a logistical curiosity getting all of us down there and back but we'll figure it out. In the meantime, a little Ollie fix did me worlds of good. Cosy's mommy has been good to not tempt me to hold Cosy while I wasn't well enough to and they have spent a good bit of time with her parents lately. I want more baby time than is good for me right now but they are both just the most beautiful, entertaining, smart, funny... I mean, they're my grandbabies, obviously I think they're perfect!

Anyways... I hadn't said much for awhile here. I've been sort of introspective and not out of sorts but definitely not myself. I saw the pain doctor yesterday and he thinks I'm doing fabulously and gave me lots more meds which I hope I never need but I'm glad to have them available if I did. I'm not at full steam yet but I'm feeling better than I've felt in a long time. When I feel good, I have a lot to say so... there you go. I'm still working hard on learning Italian - I didn't take a break from it at all. I'm up to about a thousand words, which duolingo counts as 7% fluency. I don't know about all of that but I am learning. And I'm happy to know that the old grey matter still retains language. And perhaps will even allow me to articulate for you kind folks again here every now and then. I hope you're all well. Leave me a long comment telling me the most important thing that has happened to you in the past month and the thing you're most looking forward to this summer. Until next time... love and hugs, y'all!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

All The Things...

My poor overlooked blog... another two weeks tick by and another inch of dust accumulates. I've been busy - well, busy for me which is what most of you would call "a normal Tuesday". Cosette's birthday party was a lot of fun and I (despite my introversion) really loved having it here in my space. But it was a lot more work than it should have been. My mom and I did what we could to let Tasha put her own stamp on things which translated into a lot, UH-LOT of hours of watching Cosy so Tasha could bake, etc. Next time, we'll have it catered. Not that I don't love time with my sweet girl but I pushed myself waaaaay past my limits and honestly, am still (ten days later) trying to get back to (my) normal.

I posted a ton of photos from the party which you can see here at this link even if you aren't on Facebook. Warning - I look horrible. You can see the pain on my face as I have that nasty red sunburn looking rash that I get when I'm having a "flare" of whatever autoimmune something is taking over my life. Not lupus but the doctor says everything says lupus except my blood test so... I looked awful but I was loving every minute of cuddling my babies. Oliver had a bit of a fever that day (urgent care said it was a virus - the only symptom was fever) so he was more cuddly than usual so I just took a big pillow out to the ball pit on the porch and sat on the pillow cuddling him before the party. My screened porch makes a nice place for a gathering, at least in late April, in the afternoon. It gets the morning sun. And my living room is large enough to have a lot of people gathered without feeling crowded.

Cosy's Uncle BooBoo was good enough to make the drive over from Myrtle Beach for her birthday, even though she's not really sure about his beard. She was warming up to him by the day he left. My Cousin Kevin and his wife came. Cosy's grandpa's boss and his wife came as did the girl who did her birth photography.  Of course the "big cousins" Sarabeth and Jamie and even Jorjanne - who we don't see often - was able to come. Aunt Marquee and Uncle Cody along with Cousin Ollie were there. And of course, Tasha's parents and all of us who live here... so it was a good turnout and we had WAAAAAAY too much food. Again, live and learn. I know how our family does a birthday - cake and ice cream and maybe some peanuts or m&ms to snack on- not a big spread. I ate party leftovers for the next week.

I'm doing my normal late Spring switch to craving fresh fruit and veggies. I think it's the only thing that keeps me from weighing a ton, my addiction to healthy stuff at certain times of the year. I've been having pimento cheese (homemade by Pop) on celery at lunch every day... an english muffin or cereal or oatmeal with a ton of fresh fruit for breakfast and a smallish dinner because when I'm in pain I don't feel like eating much. My pain is always worse in the evening - usually because I've done too much during the day.

Oliver is walking pretty well now. He is 9 1/2 months. Cosy is still "cruising". She walks holding on to things. She will stand and lean against things to play but won't just let go and walk. We practice all the time and I always tell her, "walking is faster". But then again, every day that she doesn't walk is a day that we don't wear ourselves out chasing her.

Cosette is so smart and remembers everything you show her. She loves the cats but every time she would get near them she would get so excited that she'd grab them - big handfuls of fur. I showed her how to hold her hand out flat and gently pet them "soft". Now whenever she sees a cat she puts her hand in that position to show that she's ready to be soft with them. When she went for her WIC checkup there were pictures of cats all around the room and she would point to them and put her hand flat to be soft. The nurse was impressed. She also signed the word "more" last week and said the word when she did it. I started taking her hands in mine and forming sign language from the time she was just a few weeks old. It's amazing how much of it she uses, things like "milk" and "want" and "eat". It makes sense that she thinks putting her hand flat is the sign for cat.

Something funny that she has started doing lately is when there is someone there that she likes or wants to impress, she shows them her toys and demonstrates how to pet the cat. She did it first with Jamie - and then last night my friends' son was over while they were delivering me a big wall unit I bought from their yard sale and Cosette was showing off for him. He had a superman shirt on so Cosy was pointing to her shirt with a picture of Hello Kitty or something on it. Then she wanted to show her bellybutton because we've been reading a book about "where is baby's belly button".

The wall unit I bought is huge but it will make a perfect pantry for me. I've had my food and dishes stored on an ugly rubbermaid shelving unit that is really more for a garage. My friend is raising money to go on a mission to Kenya and had the wall unit for sale for only $100! Her husband was nice enough to deliver it and set it up - which was no small feat because they had to come down the hill and through the backyard to my space. Fortunately Austin got home from work and was able to give them a hand. (I also gave a generous "tip" for the delivery) It has enough storage for me to tuck all of my food and dishes in and the shelving unit is perfect for Cosy's toys and books that she keeps down here. There are so many toys in my living room that it looks like a daycare. I don't mind as long as they are put away when she isn't playing with them. I'm not a clean freak by any stretch of the imagination but I do like for things to be tidy and for everything to have a place. My living room is such a large space - the wall unit helps to break things up a bit between living area and kitchen area and we can tuck Cosy's recliner behind it. I may even put my keurig in the space beside the microwave but we have to put a power strip in the wall so we don't have to move the whole thing to plug things in.

Today is Cosette's one year checkup. She's still nursing but we have added in whole milk to her diet. She spit up a few times yesterday which is out of the ordinary for her. I feel like it might be the milk but her mom thinks she just ate too much. I'm having a lot of pain today (and for the past few days) but I'm on chauffeur duty for the doctor visit so I can't take any pain meds until afterwards. I'll be grumpy but we'll get through it. Turns out that last episode of evil gut pain wasn't the last. I have my preop appointments on Friday and my surgery is scheduled for May 25th. I'm anxious about it but I know it will improve life for me once I heal from it.

I know this in no way summarizes the last two weeks as they have been so eventful. For instance, I finished the entire Duolingo Italian course and have started using a new program - Memrise.com - to study. Memrise is a much more difficult program because you have to spell everything correctly and duolingo wasn't that strict on spelling. I went ahead and invested in their advanced program for $47 dollars a year. That's a fraction of what most language learning programs (like Rosetta Stone) charge. I'm still not back to sewing because of my shoulder / neck pain. The neck pain is new and brings along wicked migraines and dizziness with it. Basically carrying babies wrecks my spine but I can't NOT hold the babies! A few times with Cosy I've just laid down on the floor beside her while she plays but I like holding her. I've also been following my sister-in-law's father's blog as he bikes across the US to raise money for a cycling program in Connecticut schools. I don't have permission to publish his link but if you message me or email me, I'll give it to you. I find it fascinating.

Anyways... that's life in Cedar Hollow, as best I can share it at the moment.. hope you're all well and ready for Summer! Love and hugs, y'all!