Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In the Hospital with Lots of Machines

The green machine is the most important - that's the pain medication! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Where Are You Shopping This Year?

For Christmas and/or Chanukah where will you be doing your shopping for your loved ones, co-workers and other gift giving necessities?  Gift cards?  Something nice from one of the big box stores?  This year, consider an alternative - consider shopping at local businesses, buying from local artisans, buying only Made in America products, giving your time on behalf of a charity or giving financially to a charity.  What about tickets to a play, concert or other event - this is supporting the local economy.  These are all alternatives to the usual gift giving ideas and just a few I dreamed up in the writing of this blog - I'm sure you can all add your ideas to the comments page!

With the US economy stalled at the bottom of a big (OK, humongous) dip, wouldn't it be powerful if the majority of Americans shopped for locally made products?  Think of the economic boost that would provide to their community and their country.  Below are some ideas.

An American product only website - http://www.proudamericantradingpost.com/
New Balance - Many of their running shoes are made in America, they also have lots of other products.
Cool Building blocks for kids
Dog and Cat products
Made in California Products
Online Store - Every item made in New England
If you just put a little effort into it, it's a piece of cake to buy your gifts, American Made.

Donate your time and volunteer - here is the Los Angeles website for all opportunities
Want to give to the needy - donate a couple chickens with Heifer International
Top 25 rated children's charities
Putting homeless to work in Hollywood  -- donate time, money or clothes!
People helping people - in Los Angeles

Yes, charities are always iffy as you never really know how much money is given to their actual programs versus to their administrative costs.  Well, wait - you can know - check out the Charity Navigator - this rates all charities - I find any charity with 3 stars and above is great.  It's hard to find a charity with over a 70% program rate but they are out there.  3 stars is usually in the 60's. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day Before Surgery

This was a busy, busy day.  My surgeon, being a Canuck himself, was very sympathetic to my plight that my immigration interview for citizenship at UCSIS in downtown LA was on October 18th, so he kindly scheduled my surgery for the 19th.  Apparently, completely escaping his memory and much to my dismay, the pre-op instructions required a clear liquid only fast starting 24 hours before surgery with nothing by mouth after midnight.  Also required was a laxative and an enema.  My first thought was of how functional was my brain going to be at the 2:00 pm interview?  My second thought was regarding my patience.  With a lack of food I tend to be on quite a short fuse so I was a little nervous for the health and safety of the interviewing officer.

Dena and my Mom made Jello and made me "eat" every 2 hours or so.  I actually felt pretty good going in to the federal building but as my wait time extended past an hour my energy began to wane.  Finally, I was called - I was asked five questions, here's a sampling:

  1. How many US Senators are there?
  2. What ocean borders the East coast of the United States?
  3. Name one state bordering Canada.
  4. What year was the US Constitution written in?  (1787....that's a trick question)

I cannot remember the 5th question but I got all 5 correct (you would hope so!) and the interview moved on.  At the end I received a check box on my application that I was recommended for citizenship.  Now, we wait, again - approximately 30 to 60 days for the final verdict and hopefully the swearing in date.

Now, back to the enema.  I hate to even comment on this but I'm sure you're all wondering why an enema would be required.  When they are working "down there" they want you clean of "debris" so that in case they nick something there will be no contamination.  That fact alone makes you stick strictly to your clear liquid diet let me tell you.  And have you ever tried giving yourself an enema?  I hadn't even ever bought an enema at the drug store!  There was no way in hell I was going to have my mother help me as I'm an adult now....it's been a long time since she looked at my behind, especially that personally.  And there was no way I was going to ask Dena to give it to me.  I mean we are married but let's face it, the romance really goes out of a relationship when you venture into this territory!  I don't want any bodily function cleanup coming until we're well into our 80's or 90's.

So, with that said, I studied the instructions and pictures on the box and laid some towels on the floor of the bathroom and twisted and contorted myself to try to make it happen.  Finally, I did get it in but I had forgotten to take the cardboard stopper off the bottle so nothing came out, so I had to uncork it and try again.  By the end of all this frustrating ridiculousness I was exhausted.  I decided that I'd just risk it.....and hopefully the laxative would do the job.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Post Bone Biopsy

Finding out the pathology results for the bone biopsy took longer than normal due to the Jewish holiday - Rosh Shoshana.  It appears that a large percentage of the professional staff at Cedars is Jewish so the lab took longer.  It's also apparently a difficult test and requires great skill.  When I heard that I was thinking that I would rather wait than have somebody screw it up.  We didn't hear the results until the following Monday.  This delay caused quite the anxiety ridden weekend I can assure you but again, I counted it as a blessing as in the recent past - all the bad news had been on Fridays.

Monday morning around 7am the doctor called and left a VM stating that all was clear and I was on for the October 19th surgery.  You can imagine the gambit of questions and emotions that flooded my mind in those brief nanoseconds.  First was Thank God!, the second was "well what the hell is it then?", followed by, "what do you mean we're on now? Does that mean if it was bone cancer you wouldn't have done the surgery?"  I never did get to speak to the doctor about the actual results until a couple weeks later at my last pre-op check in.  He said, "Oh, it was nothing, probably a thickening of the bone.  We both saw it there and the radiologist is the best but we had to check it out."   I was a little miffed by his sort of cavalier attitude since it was hell for us but I suppose this is routine for them.

Did I tell you what his secretary told me on two different occasions when I was looking for results on the bone biopsy?  She said, You need to not think about it, just drink more....  That was a prescription I could take, so I did.

Friday, November 04, 2011

2 Week Update

I interrupt this chronological history for an update.  It's been two weeks since the surgery and people are continually asking me, "how are you feeling?"  I know they are asking because they care and don't know what else to say, I tell people, "A little better every day" because that is true, but when I say a little better, I mean a tiny bit.  It's quite amazing really how slow this recovery is.  The incision still pains me and I suppose that makes sense since there are multiple sutures involved.  There are dissoluble sutures inside and the staple locations for the outside skin.  The 29 staples were removed last week and now I have tape there, very sticky tape with everything scabbing up nicely underneath.

I am pleased to report that I am walking fully upright most times.  This is important as when you have this large of an incision (mine is ~ 9") and you are in pain you have a tendency to walk a little hunched over.  I am afraid this will shorten my abdominal muscles in the healing process so I try to be very cognizant of walking perfectly straight.  I made it six blocks yesterday in my walk.  I'm very proud of myself.  I was able to do a pretty good speed as well.  I've been walking everyday making a full block circle (3 actual blocks) after about 7 - 8 days.  Of course, those were very slow walks but now I'm walking more normal speed.

I need to go to the drug store and find something to take off the sticky residual glue from all these bandages that were on my stomach.  No matter how much I scrub it does not come off.  I need some sort of goo off for skin.

So all in all, I'm doing fairly well.  I feel I'm healing a little faster than most and I am grateful there are no issues with my incision.  I'm also thrilled my urinary tract infection (antibiotic resistant) that I got in the hospital is pretty much gone.  I still get tired very quickly and cannot really bend over to pick things up but all this will come.  I will be glad when I can stop taking all these drugs.  I'm on a stool softener (let me tell you how important that one is!), a very strong antibiotic for the urinary thing, and a Hepren like shot that I have to give myself every day to make sure I don't get blood clots.  I hate that shot.  It burns like a son of a bitch after I inject it.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Bone Biopsy

Finding out about the abnormality in my hip bone on September 23rd, we were unable to get a surgery appointment for the biopsy until September 27th.  That's probably pretty fast but when you're stressing and reading the Internet about what an "abnormality" in that area could mean, it's an eternity.  Let me just tell you now, bone cancer in the hip is not something you want to have.  It's a 50% survival rate even if caught early.  There is no radiation or chemotherapy treatment as those treatments are not effective on bone.  The treatment is to cut it out.  Yes, cut it out.  I didn't tell Dena any of this as it would completely freak her out.  I also made the decision not to tell anyone about the bone cancer scare.  I figured, why does anyone else need to go through this torture of waiting besides us.

The day of the "surgery" and I call it that now as I now know it is surgery, we arrived at Cedar's South Tower at 6:30am.  We were checked in and led through the gambit of pit stops until we reached pre-op.  There it became quite real.  My clothes were taken and put in one of those bags with your name on it.  That freaked me out for some reason.  It's like you see on shows where someone is dead and they put their clothes in that bag to  give to loved ones.  After being wheeled into the CT Scan area I met my two anesthesiologists, my surgical nurse and a host of others.  This was surgery and don't bother counting backwards from 100 as you're already out.  

I woke up and my ass was sore.  It appears that while I was sleeping they flipped me over and went in via my butt.  The doctor informed me they drilled three core samples across the 4 inch area for testing.  Thoughts were racing through my Propofol (marketed as Diprivan)  filled mind - drilled?  4 inches?  What??  

Now we wait.