Wednesday, May 30, 2012

35 Stitches

Erin, a fantastic nurse practitioner, removed 35 stitches from my back!

Afterward, we took John to lunch at A Southern Season's restaurant, The Weathervane.

Lunch was excellent.

Lou and I lingered at the table while John made his first foray into A Southern Season. He is a convert.

When we got home, I went straight to bed, because I  utterly exhausted. Naptime.

Oh, and I found out that I should have already started PT, so if I wake up in time, I will be calling Avante in Cary for an appt with Jaime.

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Remove the Stitches

John is driving us up to Chapel Hill this morning so that I can get my stitches removed.

I don't see Dr. Jaikumar for this. But I do make my appointment for an x-ray and follow-up with him. That's when he releases me to go back to work and to start chemo.

Yesterday I had another migraine! Tinalynne told me that oxy pain killers give her more migraines. Maybe that's what is going on for me. It's more motivation to get off the painkillers.

Yesterday, I had 2 doses. It used to be 4, then 3...

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Big Party

Carl and Pat held their most excellent Memorial Day party today.

I got a ride up the street from Pat, and then settled into a great seat for some fun.

I got to talk to a lot of people. I was really excited to hear from Robert and Marissa, who just got home from their ambitious driving trip across Europe.

But then another migraine started.

Lou rushed hone to grab a Maxalt for me, but by 5pm I was ready to quit. John kindly drove me home, and I crashed in bed till 7:30.

I had to push Lou to go back to the party. He felt that he ought to, what, stay home and watch me sleep off the migraine?!

I was really happy when he agreed to go back.

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Live and Learn

On Thursday, I got carried away with my new regimen of walking laps. Three sets of ten-minutes, way too much.

When I went to bed that night, I had nerve pain reflected down at my ankle. I hadn't felt anything like that since before the surgery.

On Friday, it was worse. I had nerve pain running down the back of my leg to my knee, as well as at my ankle. The painkillers took it away for awhile, but it kept coming back.

Needless to say, I have walked no more laps. The only exercise I have gotten is mentally kicking myself.

(Strictly speaking, I have gotten exercise, walking around doing things and fetching things for myself instead of asking Lou to fetch them for me.)

Today was much better. The ankle nerve pain showed up only when the painkiller had long worn off.

So whatever I did to myself on Thursday seems to be wearing off. Thank God.

I know it's human nature to push too hard when you feel a little better, but I still feel like a dope.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Walk then Sleep

I slept late today. Sleep is great. Time for all the cells to rest and heal and knit themselves back together.

Eventually Lou did come into the bedroom and quietly ask if I wanted a salmon bagel for breakfast. Nothing like the mention of salmon to wake me up and get me moving.

After breakfast, I walked laps around the dining room table for a whopping ten minutes. Shortly afterward, and not completely unrelated, I took my first painkiller of the day and then fell asleep for a couple of hours.

This afternoon, I managed another ten-minute walk. Right now I'm in bed, hoping to either fall asleep or read Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe for awhile.

Linda is bringing us dinner tonight!

Usually Lou goes to poker every Thursday, but he said he's too wiped out. I think we might end up on the couch watching Robert Conrad in season 2 of The Wild West, thanks to Netflix.

I am hoping for a third ten-minute walk tonight before bedtime.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dad's on the Roof

I got to look over my Dad's shoulder at some old pictures on his PC.

So this is my Dad standing on the roof of our old house in Woodinville, Washington -- cleaning windows for us.

My Dad is a maniac!

Look at that sunny blue sky! When it isn't raining, the Pacific Northwest is a totally beautiful place.

Mom and Dad

I am a little choked up today, very sad that my Mom and Dad have headed home. But it was a good long visit.

So I can't really adequately express how much it meant to me to have them here to support Lou and me. They are fun, ever helpful, completely flex, and the best Mom and Dad in the world.

Just this morning, my Dad helped me come up with a strategy for increasing my stamina by walking for a specific length of time, multiple times per day, and keeping a chart to track progress. The first 6 minute walk wiped me out! But, hey, tonight I did 7 minutes.

Anyway, here are my sweet wonderful parents:

Getting My Posts via Email

If I have been sending my posts to you automatically via email, please watch for some kind of message from gmail asking if you want to get forwarded email from Cheer Karen On.

If you want to keep getting the blog, then respond affirmatively to the email.

If you are tired and need a break, then respond in the negative!

If you wanto be be added to the list, then send me email.


Migraines (plural)

Usually I get maybe six migraines per year.

I had one migraine in the hospital after surgery. I had a migraine start yesterday morning, right after breakfast. And I had another migraine start today, right after lunch.

Luckily, I noticed the early warning signs --- blank spots in my vision --- pretty quickly both yesterday and today. That means I was able to take the Maxalt early enough to completely derail the migraine.

Perhaps "completely derail" is a bit optimistic. But Maxalt really takes the stuffing out of it.

I had actually forgotten how lousy a migraine can be (and I admit that mine are mild compared to stories I've heard) till that one in the hospital where the pharmacy took 2 hours to get me the pill.

Because of this migraine, I was not able to ride along to the airport with Patsy, Omer, and our fabulous neighbor John.

Instead, we said our goodbyes at the end of the sidewalk on the front lawn.

I might not have mentioned that today was the day they were going home, because I didn't want to think about it. Boy, I relied on them. They were so much help, and made me laugh.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Helpful As Always

My appointment with Dr Schroder was really helpful, as always.

Tomorrow I'll have an ultrasound to rule out any blood clot that might be causing the crazy swelling. That seems like a prudent course of action.

It took awhile to update Dr S with all the new developments and then decide what to do.

When the appointment was basically over, I asked Dr S, "Would you like like to see my incision?"

Lou exclaimed, "Of course not!"

But Dr S said that he certainly would.
I knew he would. Professional curiosity. Plus, he's my PCP and really ought to see it.

I just moved my clothes out of the way and leaned over the exam table so both Dr S and Lou could get a good look.

He was surprised at how long it was, and Lou got him to measure it. It's 12.5 inches. Wow.

He said that it is a very neat incision, and that it is healing very nicely. Good to know. It has been Patsy's job to inspect it at home.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Giant Feet

So tomorrow afternoon, me and my giant swollen feet will go visit Dr Schroder, my most excellent primary care physician.

After 28 hours on a diuretic, plus a bunch of hours with my feet ridiculously  elevated, only a very small improvement was seen in the swelling.

It's time to show my dogs to my doc and ask for help.

Otherwise, everything is going really really well.

I just loaned my copy of the Peculiar Children teen novel to my friend Carol, who came to dinner tonight to meet my parents.

Carol brought an amazing cherry pineapple cake dessert (spelled it right this time). She very sweetly brought enough so that we could have it again tomorrow. I am just hoping that nobody sneaks out and  scarfs it all up in the middle of the night.

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Back-to-Work Date

I forgot to mention that I got voicemail informing me that my short-term disability ends on June 24.

So I will be back to work on Monday,  June 25!

It feels good knowing when I'll be working again. I won't start thinking about work yet. Getting better really takes everything I've got.

Ugh, and I caught myself twisting again. That is the third time. (The first time was before I knew I wasn't supposed to twist.) Man, it is hard to remember. Let's hope the third time is the charm.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Still Diabetic

It's still too early to tell what will happen down the road with my temporary diabetes...

But today for sure I am still diabetic.

My blood sugar numbers are really very good. That's only  because I'm still injecting myself with 22 units of long-lasting insulin every night!  And I eat 3 (or fewer) carbohydrates per meal.

At bedtime, I'm using a Lantus "pen" to inject myself with the long-lasting insulin. The pen is easy to deal with. Surprisingly, it doesn't hurt.

My feet and ankles have been swollen since I got home. Today I talked to the neurosciences surgery resident on-call, who assured me that there was nothing about my surgery that could result in swelling. That's great news. Tonight I was lying on couch with feet straight up in air, which helped shrink feet.  Oh, and we watched the Happy Gilmore movie.

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I am Itchy Today

When a boo-boo is healing, and suddenly it's itchy itchy itchy, that's a sign of healing.

So I must be in the midst of some awesome healing right now.

The two spots where the drains exited my back, they itch.

All the welts and scratches on my thighs itch.

The line of sutures running straight up my spine itch.

It takes character not to scratch these itchy spots. We know I'm loaded with character.

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Friday, May 18, 2012


Last year, we installed a walkway across the front lawn.

This afternoon, I walked down the walkway with my fantastic cane. We chatted with neighbors, and then i headed back into the house to rest.

Did I mention going down and up the front porch steps?! It was a workout.

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Dip This in Chocolate

Gosh, I have been quiet since arriving home on Wednesday. I've only been home for 48 hours, but it seems longer. Parts of my hospital experience are a distant blur.

Pretty much all I have been doing is lurking on the blog, soaking up your encouraging comments, and adding replies.

Lou is upstairs working. Patsy and Omer have gone to the medical supply store to pick up my cane. I am in the office, reclined in the LazyGirl, with Veronica my pink laptop so I can type on a real keyboard, instead of my phone.


A delivery person just rang at the front door with something for me. Lou carried in, not a vase of flowers, but two boxes from Edible Arrangements! OH MY GOD! Everything we have ever recieved from this company has been excellent.

We busted open one box, which contained two each of chocolate-covered strawberries, bananas, and green apples. I think we both ate two items each, which leaves two items in one box -- plus a completely untouched other box. And I got chocolate all over my face, hands, neck, and laptop.

This amazing gift is from my Aunt Frankie and Uncle Glen. Dearest Frankie and Glen, thank you so much. You are so sweet. You really know how to spread the joy.

Just wait till Patsy and Omer get home. (Don't tell, but I did suggest that if we polished off both boxes, and cleaned up all the choco evidence, no one need ever know... but Lou's cooler head prevailed.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cuddled Up in My Own Bed

We have been home long enough for me to get across lawn, up stairs, and into the house...

I gorged myself on half a can of Progresso Chicken Lemon Orzo soup. I couldn't even deal with a cracker.

And now I can barely type, I am so sleepy. Nap time. So happy to be home.

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We Are Over the the Wall!!!

We made it out!

We are in the car, on 40. "Jane" says we'll be home in 36 minutes.

Woo hoo, modified happy dance with only fingers wiggling.

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Dressed for Success

I am all dressed in street clothes, perched on the edge of my chair, just waiting for the discharge papers to arrive.

So I am coming home!

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Different Pain

Last night, my good friend Carol visited me. We had such a fun time!

Carol asked me how the pain after surgery compares to the pain before surgery. You know, I was pretty much trapped at home for 3 weeks on pain meds.

-- The pain before was a dark, unpredictable reflected nerve pain.

-- The pain after is a fresh clean surgery pain.

So I like this new pain better and expect it to go away.

What an amazing question Carol asked.

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500+ Texts

I spent a lot of time lying quietly in the dark, having a long text conversations with Lou or Tinalynne and so on.

This was instead of an actual phone call, which would have bothered my roommate.

In the past, I have been slapped with a huge Verizon bill because I exceeded some limit or other.

The customer service rep always says, if you had caught this in time, you could have changed your plan and avoided those charges. Boy, that would make me madder. Please warn me.

Anyway now I have an app for that so I found out I was WAY OVER.

So now both Lou and I can keep texting to our heart's content.

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If All Goes Well

Straight from the horse's mouth at 5:30am, Dr Downs said "if all goes well" I will be going home this afternoon.

Yesterday Dr Downs removed the second drain and asked the on-call person to watch for leakage.

It leaked enough that the on-call person (surgeon?) decided to put in one little stitch. That was fast and almost painless.

Yesterday, Patsy and Omer brought me clothes to wear home.

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Parade of Roommates

I have been in this hospital room for eight days!

I was installed here some time after surgery last Wednesday --- and here it is, Wednesday again.

I am on my third roommate. It's a lucky room because people are getting better and going home.

I won't say anything directly about anyone. Everyone behaved admirably in the circumstances. No one wants to be here, be sick, and be just behind a curtain from some stranger.

But it has been educational. Plus, I am following a couple of LMS survivors.

So, I feel really lucky about some stuff that has not happened to me:

I'm not confused, brain damaged, or in restraints.

No organ was nicked in a cancer surgery, causing so much trouble that the cancer is in the back seat.

I don't have an infection.

No chemo has caused any permanent damage to my heart.

(If any of those things have happened to you, I hope I haven't hurt your feelings by mentioning them.)


Dr Reidel called home to find out how I am doing! What a great guy. Lou gave him all the details. I will see Dr R around mid-June.

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Should I Just Ignore You?

Early Tuesday morning, there was some intense negotiations via texting to determine if two friends would visit me in the UNC Neuroscience Hospital before lunch.

(I've deleted all the texts, so I'm working from my faulty memory.)

Anyway, I love Doane and Heather. I'd enjoy their visit. I'd be laughing. But Tuesday morning wasn't good, for reasons best left unsaid.

At one point, Doane asked, "Should I just ignore what you're saying and come anyways, because I know you want visitors?"

"Ha ha ha! NO! Don't ignore me."

But that was my best offer to be ignored ever.

Plus, I think I got a committment that they will come visit me at home ASAP. (Knock on wood. I think I am coming home on Wednesday.)

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lots of Progress on Monday

Good things happened on Monday.

John (physical therapy) took me for a long walk using a walker. We peeked into  the "gym" where I could see the practice stairs and other equipment.

Maybe on Tuesday I learn how to go up the steps. I must climb four or five stairs to get into my house, but other than that, no stairs because I hardly ever go upstairs to Lou's domain.

Jenny (occupational therapy) worked with me more on how to move around and put on socks. She went over the bending/lifting/twisting restrictions for the 6 weeks. The most I can lift is a gallon of milk. I can't imagine lifting a gallon of milk right now.

Lou starts chuckling every time he points out that he'll be in charge of the washer and dryer.

Dr Downs removed one of my hemovacs! They are 4 inch round pie plate drains that have been sucking goo out of my incision. I had two to juggle, and now just one. Nice.

The removal process didn't hurt at all. I expressed my nervousness by asking if we ought to move certain pink fabric personal belongings (robe, tote)  further away in case blood spurted everywhere... But the doc assured me that it would be fine, and it was.

And I hung out with Patsy and Omer! Patsy and I had our lunches on trays together in my room, and my Dad took off for the cafeteria instead. Have I mentioned how great the food is here? Like eating in a restaurant, no kidding.

However, Monday was also migraine day. Early in the morning, like 5:15am, I saw blank spots and realized that I had a migraine.

Under normal circumstances, I would have taken Maxalt within the first five minutes and completely derailed the entire migraine.

But it took over two hours for the Maxalt to arrive. Hospitals! So this ended up being a doozy of a migraine. It lasted all day, and I had all the symptoms.  

Including where I cannot  speak well because I cannot think of words. I warned my nurse that was normal for me during a migraine. Here on the neurosciences wing, they are always on the lookout for "brain attacks." I did not want to draw that kind of attention.

Patsy even had to text Carol and Christy at the last minute not to visit me, which broken my heart, because around 4:30, I was suddenly completely nauseated. Luckily, I got anti-barfing meds and went to sleep with P and O watching over me.

When P and O split, I had baked salmon dinner followed by a wonderful night's sleep.

I am lucky to have a stroke patient as my current roommate because the staff are making a huge effort to have zero nighttime interruptions for everyone in this room, so she can sleep uninterrupted. Super nice! Plus she and her family are very sweet.

What will today bring?

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

To Cheer or To Be Cheered

Am I blogging to cheer myself on ---  and to give you all the opportunity to leave comments that really really really cheer me on in the fight because they show me that I am not alone and that others care?

Or am I blogging to cheer up my friends so they don't feel so bad for me? Tinalynne calls that caretaking. Heck no, that's not my goal.

Okay, so no need to post only happy easy stuff. I want to get the harder stuff out too so I can move past it.

In the moments before I can implement PACE (positive attitude changes everything), there are disappointments and worries that have to be aired, validated, and then let go of.

Like the fact that my surgeon estimates that he removed only 50% of the tumor. Half of that tumor is still in there. Expletive Deleted. Maybe it's sitting there chuckling like a monster in a dark corner of the basement.

Like the fact that the cancer got really aggressive in the last 2 months and ate a vertebrae. That is much worse than eating an entire box of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting, by yourself, in the dark.

Like the fact that I am diabetic and have to restrict my carb intake, so I can't even contemplate scarfing the last box of Girl Scout Thin Mints hidden in my bureau drawer at home?

Like the fact that the last two chemo drugs we tried did absolutely no good at all. What if the next one does nothing at all?

Like the fact that I have cuts and scrapes and scabs right ON MY FACE  and neck for God's sake, because of the tape they used during surgery. That kills me, especially because I definitely informed them that I am allergic to tegaderm now and that it rips my skin off. Looks like I got into a bar fight.

Like the fact that I have to share my hospital room. My roommate could be a saint and it would still stink to share this space with them.


I think that's everything.

I feel sort of giddy. It's my naturally cheerful positive attitude yelling, "My turn! My turn!"

Thank you for reading all the way to the end.

Please please please post a comment, even if it's just "Hello Karen." It will arrive as an email and make me happy.

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Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to my awesome mother, Patsy. I am so glad she's here to help.

And HMD felicitations to all my friends who are mothers.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

I'm on a Locked Ward!

This is a locked ward!

You have to be buzzed in, and buzzed out.

My friend Susan just laughed her butt off that some body finally got me locked up.

This afternoon, my fantastic nurse, Mahogany, explained that there are head trauma and brain surgery cases here on this Neurological Hospital Wing.

Those patients can become confused. They might try to leave. Or they might pull out their feeding tube or IV.

Actually, this explanation was reassuring because I vividly remember hearing someone ask, in the wee quiet hours of the night, why room so-and-so was "in restraints."

(It's exciting to have the nurses station right outside my door.)


Yikes. Automatically, I started picturing myself in restraints. Not good. So I decided to think about something else.

And I am super polite to all hospital staff, hee hee.

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Slashed that Decadron Dose

Yesterday the decadron dose was 2mg, and I slept great last night.

This morning the decadron dose was 1mg, and I slept great all afternoon.

Sleeping is really important for healing.

I am still hopeful that PT shows up to take me for a walk as promised. But I am starting to pep talk myself so I am not completely devastated if it doesn't happen.

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Vast Improvement

Good news. Although my unspeakable milestone has not occurred yet, I am all drugged up and no longer in any pain and discomfort, neither physically nor emotionally.

Better living thru chemicals.

This morning when the team checked my incision and changed my dressing, I asked if I could try lying on my side instead of just staying flat on my back.

They said I could be in any position that feels good.

So for awhile, I have been lying on my side reading the Peculiar Children novel, and loving it. It's getting scary and a big violent confrontation is coming...

Lou, Patsy, and Omer are on their way here right now. Yippee.

I was thinking if anyone local really feels a strong need to visit then tonight or tomorrow would work. I wouldn't bother visiting me, hee hee, and will not be disappointed if no one comes. Text me for room number etc

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Healing Touch Appointment

Amelia Vogler is my Healing Touch Certified Practitioner, and she came here this morning to work on me.

Like pizza delivery for "energy work"!

Lots of nurses to Healing Touch as part of their continuing education so it's not unheard of.

As usual, I felt good afterward. She said my energy field is really strong.

I asked if she could focus on my bowel, and she did a procedure for that. Usually I fall asleep and don't watch, but today I got to watch her hands dancing around over my abdominal area. It was pretty.

There was a bit of drama this morning right before Amelia arrived. I sat up and saw that the absorbant pad under me was soaked with watery bloody goo! Yikes!

The nurse came right quick.

I was like, "Did I tear out a drain?!" They said no and I decided I better just calm down.

One of the connectors on one of the drains had loosened up and leaked. Whew. Trivial.

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Not feeling great

Haven't had any pain killers since 4 yesterday and didn't realize pain had snuck up on me. So just took something.

But the real problem now is I haven't had a bowel movement yet.

My stomach started to hurt at 4am.

Just now a resident on my team woke me up and asked things like what year is it, then I reported the stomach pain.

They are going to prescribe something stronger to make the BM happen. Wish I could time travel back to last night and get it then.

Amelia comes at 7am

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Friday, May 11, 2012

I See an Antelope

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What a good day.

I finally slept after breakfast, with ear plugs.

Woke up to talk to Dr Jaikumar for a couple minutes. He said the surgery was a success. You betcha. I was happy for the chance to  thank him. As he was leaving I told him he is a rock star. (That's the drugs talking.)

Then Jane from Physical Therapy (PT) showed up at 11:30. I got up the way I have been doing it.

At first, she was trying to lift me up. She usually gets a patient up for the first time, and that requires a lot of lifting and coaching. Hey I had two people lifting and trying to calm me down that first time.

My major restriction: no twisting.  (I had to admit I twisted once, but promised not to again for next six weeks.)

I went for a walk! I wanted to peek out my door. Very pretty out there, with the nurses station and fancy  glass-enclosed family room that I am calling the fish bowl.

I was just walking upright with no support besides Jane's arm. I got ambitious and wanted to cross the hallway.

That totally exhausted me. A nurse had to fetch the walker, which was a huge relief.

Took a long time to get back to bed. I was trembling. But proud. Jane said it was fifty feet.

There is very limited PT on Saturdays, but I got an appnt which is excellent.

Patsy and Omer had arrived in time to see me walk. Jane told them I did great.

My parents pampered me all day till leaving just before 8pm.

Body parts that hurt got massaged! Talk about long lasting relief.

I even slept for awhile. Patsy sat in the recliner next to my bed and read. Omer went to the fish bowl and read.
So I am all comfy cozy ready to sleep but sort of wide awake. The decadron has been slashed by half, so I do hope for sleep.

My quality of life here has been significantly improved by ear plugs. My new roommates are watching TV but I can't hear it. And there is always something going on at the nurses station.

Um, not that anyone would, but please no flowers. This shared room is completely insanely tiny. There is no space for anything beyond essentials.

Oh the bathroom is huge and roomy tho. Vastly better than Duke.

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Quick Taper Off Decadron

Dr Downs just dropped in for a quick chat and strength test. Later the team will come look at my backside again.

He let me know we are going to start today a quick taper off the decadron steroid!

Choirs of angels are singing right now!

Such good news. I will be able to sleep and shut up --- and my blood sugar ought to get back to normal.

But, it helped for pain, so ha ha ha maybe more pain is coming. Well bring it on.

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Flush with Success

From 1:53am till 2:48am, that's how long it took from making the decision to pee, squirming out of bed, getting walked to bathroom, accomplishing task, washing hands, walking back to bed, and then squirming all the way back into my original position.

Maybe this is TMI.

Heck, the whole blog is TMI.

The biggest deal is the squirming back into bed.

I start at the foot of the bed and have to get my head like 5 inches from the headboard, or else I am slumped when I sit up.

After shift change earlier tonight, on another pee break, my fabulous nurse tech was offering advice on a better way to start off, so the journey is shorter.

I thanked her but explained that the long journey, unsupervised, is like aerobics and yoga and mountain climbing and meditation. I know I am moving better because of it. I am more flex and LESS SCARED to wiggle.

She was like, "most people want to minimize the exertion required," and she was happy for me.

But she was more happy for herself, because she and the nurse thought they had to help and were planning to drag me into position. Dear God no.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pain is Coming

Doctors have been visiting me all day since really early this morning.

I love UNC.

I am so glad we chose Dr Jaikumar. One of the nurses said we were lucky lucky to get him. We have Dr David Morris to thank for that.

Anyway, I was warned this morning that I feel so great because long-lasting anesthesia painkiller has not worn off yet.

It will wear off soon. Then it's just me and oxycodone, but oxycodone is nothing to sneeze at.

In addition, someone eventually shows up to get me to stand up, and that'll be a challenge with pain (he said).

So, I was texting with my good friend Lisa in AZ and she said something brilliant. (First part is familiar; second part is the kicker.)

Live in the moment while there's no pain. When the pain comes, think about the future!


Thanks, Lisa.

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X-Rays Last Night

Maybe around 10pm I  went for an X-ray. A team of ladies slid me onto stretcher bc no getting up yet.

There are three drains to be careful not to pull on. So tricky. Let's just say it was the drugs that made me attempt to micro manage the process.

I get to X-ray and meet the fun night team. Perfect mix of professionalism and warm welcome and mischief.

But then they tell me I have to SIT UPRIGHT for it. I was shocked.

I sputter, "Are you sure this is okay?!"

"Doctor's orders," they respond calmly.

"But I just had surgery."

"How long ago?" they ask.

"Ten minutes," comes out automatically. They all laugh.

(Thank God my nurse did not warn me when I left my room, I probably would have been completely freaked by the time I rolled into X-ray.)

So they agree to lift the back of the stretcher a bit at a time.

Ready? First heave fine.

Ready? Second heave fine to about 1/2 position.

Without warning they jump to  about the 3/4 position and I yelp STOP STOP STOP and maybe a mild swear word, and they hold me there to regroup.

One more heave totally upright and PAIN and I drop the F-Bomb.

They all laugh.

The lady on the team gives me the honor of best patient of the night.

Actually, once I am upright, no pain at all.

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Feels Just Like Home

This hospital room strangely feels just like home.

It's my first double room. There is a very sweet husband and wife in their like 50s behind the curtains, and it's just like cubicles at my old company, Intemec, impossible not to listen.

(They have requested a private room but are apparently waitlisted.)

The reason it's just like my bedroom at home is that they together breath and snuffle EXACTLY like Lou!

It is not snoring, it's just breathing. Amused me when it stated. Gave me the giggles. Now its comforting.

The bed is awesome like my bed.

I am on my back, and I am drugged so comfy.

Now, the differences.

Over and over, some supportive family member steps out of their own room so as not to disturb their loved one, and conducts casual loud long mobile phone calls in the open space outside my door!!!

Ooh if I weren't so forgetful bc drugged I would have stranger-danger personal intrigue to share avec vous based on those calls.

I have not gotten up yet. They said I could but I am waiting till morning. I am moving my legs and feets and arms etc. Like a chair dance.

My shoulders are sore from being in one position for whole surgery.

Chocolate cake for dinner bc mistakenly put on regular food. Sugar 304 before bed so diet immediately changed.

Folks at home, I have a new list of stuff for you to bring! Although that statement is suspiciously close to diabetic statement, I swear not to be asking for candy.

Number one difference: I am making myself sleep or snooze or rest even tho still on decadron bc I need sleep to heal.

(Only awake now to post bc roommate gets Lots of Nurse Visits in night and beeping equip but God Bless Her)

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Is That a Camo Bandage?

Um at first I thought this was some kind of crazy Army Navy Marine camo bandage on my paw.

But as the drugs are clearing I realized its a blood soaked bandage. Nice.

Wonder if an IV blew.

Was Miss Bailey in the operation room?! Bob musta falled down on the job distracted by Frodo.

Karen herself

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7pm update

Karen is now in her room. She is awake, telling jokes, and bossy. No tubes in her throat. Feels well. Face puffy as expected.

4 PMT update

Surgery is 95 percent complete. Surgery went very well. About 40 to 50 percent of tumor removed. Surgeon was not able to install cage not enough room. However sufficient strong bones remains. Screws inserted at l 2 l 3 and l 4 as well as lower back.

About another hour and a half to close up and finish the surgery. Karen will not have to go to ICU. Instead she will go to recovery and then her own room.

2:30 pm update

So far everything is good. Process of removing tumor is slow and steady. Another 2 or 3 hours to go.

Noon update

All is well. Proceeding as expected. A CT scan was donr during operation. Proceeding to remove tumor.

More info as it becomes available.


Karen was wheeled off to surgery as scheduled at 8:30 am. Her spirits are quite good.

More info later.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sushi Dinner Tonight

Of course we went out to sushi tonight! We went to Genki, which we love. It was packed! Crazy for a Tuesday. But it gave us a lot of time to talk and laugh while we waited for food.

Lou, Omer, and I ate fabulous sushi -- and Patsy had a noodle stir fry, which looked pretty yummy. As an added bonus, we ran into my good friend Michael from work, who was there with his girlfriend and son. I was so glad to be able to introduce him to my parents. (He has met Lou.)

The house is very quiet right now. Everyone else is in bed. I was very sleepy after dinner, but then I had to shower with a strong sanitizing soap, and the process WOKE ME UP pretty severely. I sure hope that I start to feel sleepy soon.

I feel rock steady and confident about tomorrow. It has been a long wait, and I am ready to get this surgery over with. My focus is on the strong chemo that will come maybe 6 weeks after the surgery. Got to beat back the cancer. Beat it with a big chemo stick. Make it whimper and cry. Kill it if we can. Maim it if we can't kill it.

It seems funny to say this, but today was a super day. I started off at the bank with Lou and got the happy news that all the stolen money has been restored.

I had to start taking painkillers when we got back from the bank, though, because I could hardly walk. As a result, I was feeling pretty darned good all day long as Patsy and Omer chauffered me around town like a princess, running little errands and buying stuff. We had a lot of laughs. I do not think that I shut up for 5 minutes the entire day. Decadron does not bother Mom and Dad.

Lou stayed home and worked in a nice quiet house, which was really good because he has some code to deliver by Friday. Life marches on.

There are lovely lovely flowers on the kitchen table, care of Lou's coworkers!

I am reading a great book, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs. Turns out, Patsy read it too on her Nook, but she could not see the creepy pictures so well on the Nook. I might be halfway through, and I just hope that it does not take me too many days in the hospital before I can pick up this hardcover and resume reading. (Maybe Patsy will read aloud to me. Someone ought to suggest it to her.)  This novel is on the New York Times Best Seller list, and it's for teens. I think that books for teens are often better-crafted than books for adults, because a teen will give up on a lame book and toss it across the room.

You don't have to worry about Miss Bailey being alone in the house tomorrow, because we asked Bob to keep her company all day. Bob's main job is to keep the monster from destroying anything, especially all the freshly cleaned area rugs. He's planning on a Lord of the Rings movie marathon. Do not feed her so much popcorn that she barfs!

Really, I had better go to bed now -- even though I am still so wide awake. The alarm will go off in 6 short hours. Luckily, my job tomorrow is pretty easy.

Ten Day Old Bruise

This is the bruise that developed after I sprained my ankle ten days ago.  It looks awful, but it does not hurt at all now. That first day, I used a walker to get around. It was bad.

The amazing thing is that this bruise was a solid dark blue when I went to see Amelia Vogler on Monday afternoon for a Healing Touch appointment. My ankle was one of the things she worked on, and at the end of the hour, clear patches had appeared admidst the blue!

It was so dramatic an improvement, we both wished that we had taken before and after pictures. And since then, the bruise has just been clearing up nicely.

I really can't say enough about the work that Amelia has done on me. I am not clear what she does, but I always feel better afterward.

This afternoon, my parents drove me to a pedicure appointment so that I could get my feetsies cleaned up, and all the polish removed, for the surgery. The pre-op nurse warned me that I ought to get rid of the polish, because I guess they like to seee your nails as an indicator of maybe oxygenation??  Who knows.

Would You Want To Be Me Right Now?

If you could trade places with me right now, would you?

Ha, of course not.

But some criminal did a little identity theft on me today.

She fricking emptied our checking account (plus savings) to pay two of her ginormous credit card bills.

Lou saw the transactions right away and contacted our bank, and all the money will be returned to us in the morning. Thank God.

Our banker said the two credit card companies will go after the woman. Grrr! Get her!

The bummer is that I'll have to spend time tomorrow with Patsy and Om at the bank, closing those accounts and opening new ones.

My plan was for a little fun on this last day before surgery. I figured I would be up for it because I could take a painkiller and have my Dad do the driving.

What fun? I want to go to Bed Bath Beyond to buy a cute new rug for standing at the kitchen sink. What, that doesn't get your heart beating faster? It's pretty heady stuff after three weeks trapped in the house!

No matter what, we'll have fun tomorrow.

I better try to get to sleep now.

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They Are in the Car

Patsy just called. They are in the towncar, headed here to the house!

I was fast asleep, and now I am wide awake. I am so glad they are here. Or almost here.

The house is ablaze with lights. The dog thinks it's breakfast time.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Happy Belated Anniversary, Jeff and Lynda

Lou is dubbing videos from VHS to DVD for Patsy and Omer.

So last night, I got to see Jeff and Lynda's wedding!  On May 2, 1992! Happy Belated Twentieth Anniversary, you two!

Twenty years is a huge accomplishment. Gosh, you were both so young and gorgeous and happy. Lots of kissing at this wedding!

One thing I did not understand was "Puff The Magic Dragon" being played during dinner for Lynda by her coworkers. It was hysterical, but I would love to hear the story behind it.

It was super cool to see everyone, especially Patsy and Omer all dolled up, dancing and laughing.

Ned Charpentier cut an awesome and impressive figure doing the twist. I can't remember everyone, but it was fun to see the Tom and Gloria Brittain, and Jimmy and Pat Souza in the receiving line.

I also got to see some people who are no longer with us, which was bittersweet.

Of course, I was keeping an eye out for myself. Finally, I saw Tinalynne and I doing the Electric Slide on the crowded dance floor. We had some good moves. (I still have those earrings.)

For some reason, Lou was not my guest at this event, despite the fact that we got married like 3 months later. Last night, he really teased me about not being my date, hee hee. Way back then, there was at least one aunt who made it clear to me that she thought maybe Tinalynne was going to be my life partner, and she just wanted me to know that was really okay with her.

Maybe that misconception was inevitable, since I like never dated anyone and brought only Tinalynne to every single family event. And Patsy was always making some special dish for Tinalynne, like chicken instead of ham, just like a good mom would do to help woo a prospective bridegroom. Of course, I eventually brought around Lou, and Tinalynne eventually brought around Michael, and then we married them!

I will admit (since it is just us talking here) that I always had an expectation that some day in the far far far future, Tinalynne and I would be rickety old widows living together somewhere. With cats.

Lou Conquered the Conquistador!

Saturday was a funny day. Really enjoyable.

We started the day at our local Brigs restaurant. The door was still locked when we arrived at exactly 7:00AM, opening time. Our goal was for Lou to eat the last of six Royal Skillet breakfasts so that he could get a free t-shirt that says, "I Conquered The Conquistador." Hey, such goals and distractions are good for the mind -- if not for the arteries.

After breakfast, since I was still in good shape, we actually grocery shopped. Since I have been side-lined, we have been ordering groceries online and picking them up at our Harris Teeter. It's a good system, but it is not the same as wandering through the store. I had three things to pick up for Patsy and Omer. I could not find Smuckers Sugar-Free Maple Syrup. Grrrr. Got the other two items though.

The rest of the day, it's almost like we vacationed from each other!

Lou and Bailey took a really long walk, and then Lou watched hours and hours of Frontline on the world-wide financial disaster caused by those credit risk swap, mortgage backed security thingies.

Meanwhile, I was either lying on the floor of my office (to avoid taking pain killers) or working in my closet to arrange things just so. I was also ruthlessly throwing away anything that needed to be thrown away.

Our plan had been a big salad for lunch, but we decided on a whim to go out for Mexican food for Cinqo de Mayo. It was great. We both got fajitas and brought home enough leftovers for an army.

Saturday was not a great day for pain. I ended up taking a painkiller at bedtime, which meant that I slept great. But I did sleep short, only from like 11:00PM to 3:30AM. I have surrendered to the weirdness of my decadron-fueled sleep pattern and look forward to a Sunday afternoon nap.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

That Was A Test

We just made sure that Lou can use his cell phone to update this blog and let ya'll know how it's going during the surgery.

Giving him access like this is a bit more nerve wracking than when I signed over power of attorney.

God knows what he'll post.

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Lou taking over

Lou is now in charge.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

11 Words With Friends

I currently have eleven WWF games going.

I lost a lotta games in the last week though. Can we blame the painkillers, please?

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Vote Early, Vote Often

We didn't early vote on Thursday, so we'll do it today (Friday).

We always spend a lot of time picking the judges. I laugh to myself about hoping to never go in front of one.

I was sleeping so peacefully on painkillers but now I am awake.  

Not on painkillers, I have one boring position in bed that's pain free, on my right side, no pillow under my head, blah. (But I thank God I found it.)

On painkillers, I can sleep however I want. I woke up on my stomach, smashed up against Lou, hugging my pillow... Nice.

Maybe I shouldn't submit sleepy bizarre painkiller posts like this.

Our sheets are chocolate brown with a stripe in the weave. Had to get new sheets for the new mattress. That is always fun.

Our quilt is blue and exactly matches Tinalynne's blue quilt. By accident they match. A million years ago, I admired hers, she said JCPenney, and somehow I got the exact same one.

I better just shut up now.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Early Voting

I am good for one errand or event per day, and today it will be early voting in the North Carolina primary. We have our sample ballots all filled out, all the decisions have been made, so now we just go and vote somewhere in Garner. (I printed the directions.)

We used to use absentee ballots when we lived in Washington State, but early voting is sort of fun. It's fun to go to the polling place, make the effort, be part of the event, all at a time of our choosing.

But, early voting doesn't start till 11:00am today.  Why am I up?  Decadron I think.  I have been WIDE AWAKE for a little while, so I finally gave up and popped out of bed.

Bad news: there is nothing to iron. The closet here in my office is completely empty. All our clothes are hanging in the master closet (or crumpled dirty in a hamper, and I draw the line at ironing dirty things).

Oooh, but I have not touched up the ruffles on the sheets for the guest bad for Patsy and Omer!! Ah, decadron also makes the little grey cells fire. (I recently watched a couple of Poirot episodes on Netflix.)

Things are going okay. I am looking forward to the surgery on Wednesday. I wish it were sooner, but then again I don't relish how I'll feel the night before.

My ankle developed a heck of a bruise. It is still swollen, but I can walk just fine.


Friends have offered to bring us meals, which is so sweet and exciting and convenient -- but we basically asked that they hold off till after my parents have come and gone, because that is when we assume we'll need support.

But my great friend from work, Meredyth, dropped by Wednesday night with buckets of something called taco soup and something else called cornbread.

Our Thursday night dinner was comprised of these items, and it was an event. Fabulous! Delicious! And there is another whole bucket o' soup in the freezer! Meredyth, thanks so much.

We are going to need recipes. My marriage might not survive the vicious fighting over the cornbread.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Next Week: Patsy and Omer

One week from today I'll be waking up to Patsy and Omer sitting at the breakfast table!

They'll probably all be drinking their coffee by the time I roll outa bed, unless the decadron has me up before the birdies.

Today a guy comes to take away all the area rugs for cleaning. Exciting.

Last night I stayed up till 1:30am.

I sewed a few sequins along the hem of a skirt... It looks cute but took forever. I hope I can get a little faster. But this is my distracting project for the week.

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