Bidet to You, Too!

So, I wrote this whole post about how I’m almost done with my first course at Harvard, and I think I’m getting an A. I am so excited, proud and just so darn yay-ing over here, that the post was boring. I can hardly believe it’s me when I think about it too much. Bryon keeps telling me it’s obvious. I’m like, “umm, is it?”

 

Well, the post wasn’t boring to me. But, nonetheless. I’m sad for the class to be over, and a bit nervous for Fall semester because I’ll have two classes, and I don’t think I can take my first professor again. She conflicts with another class I have to take, of which there is only one offering. She is the most patient, energetic, kind and knowledgeable person I’ve met in a long time. I had hesitations going into this, and I’m glad I took the risk. The decision was made on a whim one day, but I’m so glad that I didn’t back out.

Not the greatest cat pic of the week, but I think it speaks to the gist of the week…Rachel’s school stuff spread all over the bed, while I work, Bear ignoring it and trying to get a treat, Homer watching in the background (judgmentally).

Not the greatest cat pic of the week, but I think it speaks to the gist of the week…Rachel’s school stuff spread all over the bed, while I work, Bear ignoring it and trying to get a treat, Homer watching in the background (judgmentally).

 

The only good thing about this semester ending, is that you get to be rid of that one student in every class that annoys you. The one who seems to have stumbled their way into the course, but isn’t sure how they got there. Somehow, they manage to continuously show up, driving everyone else crazy with questions totally out of left field, usually syllabus-related, in the middle of lectures. Because it’s an online course, I know I was particularly grateful that, by week four she’d figured out how to use the mute/unmute button when talk. It was a blessing to us all, because someone in her household was fond of using the blender, far more often than is normal for a three-hour period.

 

I’m sure she’s a lovely person in her everyday life. I’m just not sure I’ll miss her in this environment. It’s funny how different environments color your perception of people, isn’t it? Honestly, my favorite part about the online component of this class, is that this particular person has her camera set up in her dining room, and she has all her papers, and miscellaneous books (of which there aren’t any required for this course) organized in piles all over her dining room table, and chairs. So, every time someone talks, or the professor talks, she gets up (from her rocking chair!) walks over to the table, and digs through papers, finds something (I have no idea what!) and is satisfied. Hey, whatever works though, right? To be a fly in her mind, for just a few minutes would be ever-so-fascinating. Truthfully, to be a fly in anyone’s mind would be fascinating.

 

Or…scary. Flies are always getting smacked.

 

Look at me, I said I wasn’t going to keep writing about my class, and then I went and did it again for another full page. Jeesh, I must need to get some of it out! There. I did. When it’s all over with, I’ll give you all the full low-down, and my grade (hopefully, an A, fingers crossed).


See that above….that’s the back to business line!


What I thought about telling you about instead, today, was that we made a weird investment a few weeks ago.

 

Drumroll.

 

A bidet attachment! Bet you didn’t see that coming!  

 

I think it was the third or fourth day after my surgery, and I was whimpering and crying, in pure agony and exhaustion. Bryon didn’t know what to do. When I’m in pure pain, he’s probably at his most adorable, because he wants to help, so badly, but simply can’t. He looks like how I imagine Henny Penny must look, when the sky is falling. He gets a look in his eyes that just screams, “I’ll do ANYTHING! Just tell me!”

 

If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. I fall more in love with him every day, but on those days, it’s double so. He reminds me that he’s always going to be there when it’s tough; but not just there, there. His whole heart is breaking with mine. It’s truly something to have that in your corner, in a marriage.

 

So, as I’m whimpering in the bathroom, because it’s so hard to go to the bathroom with your foot up, and to wipe effectively; I know, it’s a lot to imagine, but bear with me; he says,

“I know I can’t take your pain, but what can I do. I’ll do anything.”

 

Swoon ladies, he’s mine.

 

I feel like this is getting a little too sappy with love-bug-bites about my husband. So, how about I tell you something less than charming about him to even it out? He has to sleep with a massive two-piece mouth-guard, specially fitted to his mouth from the doctor, to keep his jaw in-line to help keep him from snoring. Note that I said help, not keep him from snoring. He still snores. He also uses the snore strips, and lots of swift kicks in the shin from his wife. Either way, it’s not super sexy.

 

I said, “You know what I want? I want a bidet. It’s too hard to wipe right now and get everything.” Gross, I know. It’s not romantic, but when you have been together this long, and he’s sitting on the floor, holding my leg on his shoulder while I poop, the romance is that he’s holding my leg while I poop.

 

Oh! Didn’t I mention, because the stool kind of hurt my ankle, when he could, he’d rush into the bathroom, and hold my foot on his shoulder, regardless of what number I was doing. True love, folks. True love. Devotion, and true love. He’d sit there, even in the middle of the night, as he fell asleep against the wall, while I went to the bathroom, with my leg propped on his shoulder.

 

So, off he went to Home Depot to find a bidet attachment for our toilet. AND, a new toilet seat! When we moved into our house, our master bathroom (which is hideous!) had this weird toilet seat that was about 7/8 the size of the toilet, and slightly crooked. In my bathroom meltdown scene, I also asked for an appropriately-sized, non-crooked toilet seat.

I told you our bathroom was UGLY. This is the entire thing, too. A stall shower, with lemon-yellow tile. The best part is that someone actively chose this, RECENTLY! the tiles are in the basement. The man who owns this house is a single dude, who has no woman to stop him from making bad decisions, clearly. He didn’t replace things like the fixtures and the lighting, which I didn’t take photos of, but imagine 1965, and so old the aren’t even rated for ground fault. Oh, and the best part of the whole bathroom is that there was ONE towel hanger when we moved in. ONE. So, we had to hang a second one, right below it, so we could both have towels to shower with, hence the towel, hanging nearly to the floor, covering the toilet paper dispenser. I can’t reach the one that is above it, because it’s almost the height of the ceiling! This is the weirdest master bathroom that I’ve ever lived in, for sure!  P.S. I know that towel next to my husband’s sink looks dirty. It’s not. I swear. It’s stained. I used it to wipe of a charcoal mask…bad Rachel.  P.P.S. OH! I almost forgot, I am pretty sure the owner must be a smoker, but ONLY smoked in the bedroom, because no matter how many times we wash the walls, the bathroom walls “bleed.” it’s the only way I can describe it. An orange-ish, reddish dripping ick is always dripping down the walls. I’d say our house is haunted, but it’s only the bathroom, and it looks more like filth than anything else. It’s so gross. It seems like it’s something pulled from the paint, or under-layers of paint, when activated by steam, and it’s like old nicotine. It’s…just…gross. We’ve given up cleaning it up more than once a month or so, because it’s just impossible to keep up with!

I told you our bathroom was UGLY. This is the entire thing, too. A stall shower, with lemon-yellow tile. The best part is that someone actively chose this, RECENTLY! the tiles are in the basement. The man who owns this house is a single dude, who has no woman to stop him from making bad decisions, clearly. He didn’t replace things like the fixtures and the lighting, which I didn’t take photos of, but imagine 1965, and so old the aren’t even rated for ground fault. Oh, and the best part of the whole bathroom is that there was ONE towel hanger when we moved in. ONE. So, we had to hang a second one, right below it, so we could both have towels to shower with, hence the towel, hanging nearly to the floor, covering the toilet paper dispenser. I can’t reach the one that is above it, because it’s almost the height of the ceiling! This is the weirdest master bathroom that I’ve ever lived in, for sure!

P.S. I know that towel next to my husband’s sink looks dirty. It’s not. I swear. It’s stained. I used it to wipe of a charcoal mask…bad Rachel.

P.P.S. OH! I almost forgot, I am pretty sure the owner must be a smoker, but ONLY smoked in the bedroom, because no matter how many times we wash the walls, the bathroom walls “bleed.” it’s the only way I can describe it. An orange-ish, reddish dripping ick is always dripping down the walls. I’d say our house is haunted, but it’s only the bathroom, and it looks more like filth than anything else. It’s so gross. It seems like it’s something pulled from the paint, or under-layers of paint, when activated by steam, and it’s like old nicotine. It’s…just…gross. We’ve given up cleaning it up more than once a month or so, because it’s just impossible to keep up with!

 

Mr. Fix-It, fixed it. It has been more glorious than I can even imagine to sit on an appropriately-sized toilet seat. You sort of take those things for granted when they aren’t there!

 

But the bidet! I had read about these things, or seen them advertised, and thought that they seemed kind of neat, but not given them much thought until I was having trouble wiping. Yep, letting it all hang out, details-wise.

Nice and compact….hardly even notice it, and easy to reach, easy to use, and just plain awesome.

Nice and compact….hardly even notice it, and easy to reach, easy to use, and just plain awesome.

 

Oh, my Triscuits and Vegan Cheese! You’ve got to try this out!

I’m living in the south, once again - and once again, not by choice - thought I’d try out being colorful. Go get one. They are amazing! Ours pulls water right from the tank, so the water is cold, which let’s call “refreshing.” But, it has a few settings: some kind of misty shower setting and a more direct spray. You can also adjust the water pressure. Although, even at its fullest pressure, you aren’t going to be spitting it out of your mouth. Get it? It’s quite snazzy for something that went on in under an hour.

 

We learned pretty quickly that toilet paper isn’t enough to dry one’s tushie of the copious amounts of water that a bidet gets on your bootie. And, one of the great reasons to get one is to save a bit of toilet paper. I suggest investing in handful of towels that are expressly for bidet use. The fun part is choosing fun towel patterns that you know will be just for your butt. I found some really absorbent ones on Amazon that were inexpensive. And, they had pretty patterns, likely put on with super-toxic thread, or something terrible.  

The link for the product is here…they are awesome:  Poopie-Butt Towels

The link for the product is here…they are awesome: Poopie-Butt Towels

Since you’ll be drying, in theory, a clean behind, these should remain clean, and only have to be washed when you wash your towels, not creating a hindrance of laundry. It feels weird to share bidet towels, so Bryon and I each have our own. Collin’s on his own with his own bidet-less bathroom; but, since his bathroom looks like the Sunoco station when no one is on cleaning duty, I don’t feel one bit badly about that.

Towels on hooks for Bryon, Rachel and none for little Collin…oh well. if he’s dying to use it, he can. But, he never asks. The one time he did, we practically had to mop the bathroom afterward, as he sprayed the entire room. Not sure how little French kids get the hang of it. Didn’t Mark Twain say something about how bright the kids in France were, that even the little ones could speak French? Something like that is to be said about the bidet then too :)

Towels on hooks for Bryon, Rachel and none for little Collin…oh well. if he’s dying to use it, he can. But, he never asks. The one time he did, we practically had to mop the bathroom afterward, as he sprayed the entire room. Not sure how little French kids get the hang of it. Didn’t Mark Twain say something about how bright the kids in France were, that even the little ones could speak French? Something like that is to be said about the bidet then too :)

 

I’m not going to lie, we’ve each had an incident where we were sure we were all clean and shiny and when we went to pat dry…whoops! Needed to replace the towel. I’m nothing if not honest with you! And, we all know, especially my chronic pain warriors, that if we are on opiates for any length of time, that this thing is going to be a wondrously amazing gift! And…everybody poops! That’s why there are spare towels and detergent in this world. It all works out, “in the end.” Ba-dum-bum!

Because we rent, we obviously don’t put a lot of, or any, permanent, changes into a home, so we couldn’t do anything super spiffy. But, this works perfectly, and we get to take it with us when we leave! We take our shower heads with us too! Something about rentals screams shitty shower heads! Why? Why wouldn’t you put a decent shower head in a house? The kind that you can take down and do a decent spray and wash with? I will never understand this. The longer we are in, the more I look forward to our forever home…which I know is still many years out. Still, the list of things I imagine for it is expanding by the mile! Now, Bidet is added to that list..even if it’s tank attached.

Pain Management: Lifesavers

I kept falling asleep while I wrote this…and when I tried to proofread it, the same thing happened. So, oh well! It is what it is.

Remember how I mentioned pain management last time? How I said I’d had to call, almost immediately after surgery to say, “Yo, this medication isn’t cutting it, can I take more?” And then, I had to go see them, again, to say, basically the same thing?

Being bed-bound has its advantages. Look at my companion. Like the cats, he never leaves my side. He thinks that the headphones make him look like an official “gamer,” and he made me take his photo.

Being bed-bound has its advantages. Look at my companion. Like the cats, he never leaves my side. He thinks that the headphones make him look like an official “gamer,” and he made me take his photo.

 

Well, I had to call again. It still wasn’t strong enough. I was told to take a different combo of the same meds, at a different time. Because of the amount of meds this would require, I needed a refill almost immediately. I know, I know, it sounds like I might be a giant baby. Or, I am craving my Dilaudid and Oxy combo, and becoming some kind of fiend. Or, the most likely scenario, the whimpers and sobbing that came out of me, as the meds wore off, are indicative that the medication is both not strong enough, and not lasting long enough.

 

So, now I was on visit/call number FOUR, to pain management. This time, I was scheduled to see the actual doctor, not her PA. This was the big time. I was both afraid, and excited. I was afraid, because I knew I had to tell her that I’d been taking one extra pill per dosing period. I knew that was important for her to know, so she could dose me properly, when she adjusted meds; but, this was the first time I’d ever taken more medication than I was prescribed. To put that in perspective, I’ve been on opiates of some kind since 2014. In five years, I’d never taken a single extra pill. That’s how brutally painful this surgery has been. So, this scared me, because I was afraid she’d think I was taking them for the wrong reasons. In reality, if I didn’t take them, I was shaking in pain. I was excited too though, because I thought that she might be able to help me. There is nothing, nothing, nothing that will ever shake my optimism about seeing a doctor when I’m truly sick. I continue, perhaps blindly, to believe deeply in the curative power of the white coat, and the deep humanitarian desire to help others that they all share.

 

Doing homework, with my judgemental pal. He helps me do well, otherwise he has an opinion about it.

Doing homework, with my judgemental pal. He helps me do well, otherwise he has an opinion about it.

Sitting in the waiting room was brutal. I’d gotten close to my dose time while we were sitting there, so I was in agony. It isn’t that I couldn’t take my meds while I was at the doctor; they have water, and I packed my pills. It was that I couldn’t take them for another hour or so; I was only close to my dose time. Close means my meds had worn off, and I was suffering. The worst part was that we had sat there, patiently, for forty-five minutes past our appointment time, before we asked the front desk if something had gone wrong.

 

They, of course, said I was next, and I’d be called momentarily. You could see them scrambling behind that little window. Someone had clearly misplaced my chart. I’d never have been called, had Bryon not gone to the front desk and asked about me. They called me back, almost immediately…to what amounted to a spare stock room, not an exam room. Sure, I was next. It was absolutely planned this way. Except that the tech that called me back profusely apologized for misplacing my chart and causing the whole thing. I do love when people apologize for messing up when they are in a face-to-face customer service industry, it makes all of the difference in the world. I was immediately no longer frustrated.

Loki’s opinion of my homework is far less strict. He feels that as long as I do my best, he’s cool with it.

Loki’s opinion of my homework is far less strict. He feels that as long as I do my best, he’s cool with it.

 

Anyway, when the doctor came in, a doctor who I’ve never met, yet who is the doctor I’m billed under every time, this is how the beginning of our conversation went:

Now that Bryon has gone back to work. Collin is my day nurse. I usually don’t wake him up until the God forsaken hour of 10 am. But, even then, it’s too early for him, and he comes dragging into my bed for these precious snuggles. I had to break my leg for this, but it might have been worth it.

Now that Bryon has gone back to work. Collin is my day nurse. I usually don’t wake him up until the God forsaken hour of 10 am. But, even then, it’s too early for him, and he comes dragging into my bed for these precious snuggles. I had to break my leg for this, but it might have been worth it.

 

R: I don’t know you. (yep, this is how I greeted her). I mean--sorry. Probably should’ve said something else, it’s just that I have been seeing someone else. Maybe---

 

Dr: Probably Diana?

 

R: Yes! Diana!

 

Dr: Don’t worry. I oversee all my patients. I’ve read your chart from top to bottom and I just reviewed it now. I see your meds are fucked up for this. Tell me about your surgery. It looks like hell.

 

R: (Shocked pause….then told her about the surgery).

 

Mew is enjoying my convalescence as well. He spends a lot of his day hiding under the bed, so now that there is someone IN the bed that he hides under, he is quite pleased to have a visitor.

Mew is enjoying my convalescence as well. He spends a lot of his day hiding under the bed, so now that there is someone IN the bed that he hides under, he is quite pleased to have a visitor.

I thought I would never find a doctor I loved as much as Doctor W in California, but she’s quickly becoming a close second. She swore, so goddamn much, I was impressed. I’ve never seen a doctor behave like that. But, It wasn’t he swearing that I liked, it was the matter-of-fact way that she dealt with my situation.

 

More homework. This is my general plan-ish for my big paper. It took me days to come up with this plan/idea that looks like a mess. Going to start working on it this weekend and see if it falls flat.

More homework. This is my general plan-ish for my big paper. It took me days to come up with this plan/idea that looks like a mess. Going to start working on it this weekend and see if it falls flat.

When I told her that I was taking an extra pill at every dose, she wasn’t mad, she didn’t judge me; she said she was glad I told her because she needed that info for her math to figure out how to plan to dosing for what she wanted to prescribe next. She was pissed that her staff of PA’s didn’t think of putting me on a long-lasting opiate, instead of short-acting ones, that work, but have the nasty tendency to provide peaks and valleys of pain relief and absence of pain relief for patients in acute pain.

 

More joyous cats who are happy I’m in bed.

More joyous cats who are happy I’m in bed.

I told her that I’d specifically asked for an extended-release opiate when I came in, before my surgery, and we discussed the plan for pain relief. The doctor got angry when she heard that. A few “F-bombs” were dropped. I explained that, based on my brain surgeries, I knew that had been what worked the best for me, for serious surgeries; so, it was my best guess here.

 

Now, four weeks in, I was up to 80 mg of oxycodone, and 16 mg of Dilaudid a day. That is an insane amount of opiates. It was enough to be getting dangerous, especially when combined. The worst part was that I was still in pain, despite the massive amount of drugs I was taking. It seems impossible, but I was. I could kiss my doctor for telling me that it wasn’t, and that it was perfectly reasonable to be in this kind of pain with short acting meds, after this kind of operation.

 

She scribbled on a piece of paper for several minutes doing all kinds of complicated math. She mumbled half addition and multiplication problems randomly, drew arrows all over my intake page, crossed-out, and finally came up with an answer. She prescribed an extended-release opiate, in the 36 mg dose, which happens to be the largest it comes in (the pharmacy had to order it). I take it twice a day (every 12 hours). Additionally, she prescribed a short acting opiate for breakthrough pain that I’m allowed to take up to three times a day. Viola, a plan that should work.

A rare sight: all three cats in the bed, in close proximity to one another. Homer hates Mew, and Mew harasses Homer. It’s all very social dynamics of cats, in real time, developing. I’m always reprimanding them, and giving them serious lectures about how to treat our friends. They don’t listen.

A rare sight: all three cats in the bed, in close proximity to one another. Homer hates Mew, and Mew harasses Homer. It’s all very social dynamics of cats, in real time, developing. I’m always reprimanding them, and giving them serious lectures about how to treat our friends. They don’t listen.

 

She ended the appointment with this:

 

“You call here if there is a shitstorm, and we’ll fix it. This amount of pain is unacceptable. Un-accept-able. We’ll get through this. Together. I promise.”

 

There’s no way of explaining how awesome it is to feel like your doctor is totally on your team. I felt like I could pick up the phone, at any time, call, and say, “it still hurts, help,” and she’d drop everything to call in something new. I needed that feeling, right then, after struggling for so many weeks.

 

So far, for the last few days though, I think we may have found the right balance. The problem will be that getting off the extended release opiates is a different story than getting off short acting opiates. It is a whole different animal, and a pain in the ass. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again, but ugh. All I can say is that at least it’s not Fentanyl.

 

Alas, this is where we are at, at the moment. I’m finally on extended release opiates, and I just started PT, which is brutal. I cried yesterday, but she didn’t stop. I think she liked watching me writhe. I am still taking my Harvard class, and kicking ass in it. Yeah, that’s right, broken leg and all, I’m doing awesome. Nothing brings me more joy than school. I’m crazy, I think. I wish we had class every day. I can’t wait for next semester, when I have two classes. It will be a dream!

 

I am up to being encouraged to bear 25 lbs. on my broken leg, which doesn’t sound like much, but the goal is to be off the crutches in about a month. So, between the exercises that PT has me doing at home, the massages that they want me to do, and just regular aches and pains of healing, my leg is giving me a run for my money. Thank goodness for new pain meds, and a pain management doctor who cares about pending shit storms.

Fulkerson Recovery, So Far: By the Numbers

It’s hard to talk about this surgery’s recovery without simply breaking down into racking sobs, complaining endlessly, or considering amputation. So, I thought I’d just give you a run-down of a few “by the numbers” factoids, instead of a rambling essay about how damn much it hurts, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

My nurses, making sure i get lots of rest.

My nurses, making sure i get lots of rest.

So, in no particular order…


Weeks, to the day, since surgery: 3

 

Times pain management has had to adjust (increase) pain meds, because the pain had caused uncontrollable shaking: 2

 

Seasons of “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding” I’ve watched since surgery: 6 (side note: amount of guilt or shame I’ve felt for watching total trash television is absolutely zilch, nada, zip)



Showers I’ve managed to take, in total, in three weeks: 4 (I say “I,” but it’s a “we” process, because it requires massive assistance from Bryon. It takes about an hour from start to finish, and leaves me exhausted for about two hours afterward)

 

Blood clots I’ve managed to accumulate: 2

 

 “Dangerous” blood clots: 0

My third nurse, who tends to alienate himself from the other two, or from combinations of the other two, at any given time. He’s kind of a jerk, frankly. But, he likes me, only me, and can be awfully sweet, when he wants to be. And, he’s awfully cute.

My third nurse, who tends to alienate himself from the other two, or from combinations of the other two, at any given time. He’s kind of a jerk, frankly. But, he likes me, only me, and can be awfully sweet, when he wants to be. And, he’s awfully cute.

 

Amount I’ve learned about blood clots: Lots. Apparently, you can have blood clots in the soft tissue, not just in the vein. And, they can be huge, as I’ve also learned. Soft tissue blood clots still hurt like a motherfucker, but aren’t dangerous. Eventually, they break up, and re-absorb, but in the meantime, they are intensely painful, especially to the touch.

 

Upper Respiratory Infections: 1 (Always have to thank the kiddos for bringing home colds at the most inconvenient times)

 

Average number of times I get up to pee per night thanks to extra fluid intake: 4 (again, “I” = “we.” Bryon is a damn hero. He holds my leg up while I pee, so I don’t have to try to lift it myself, to a stool, in the middle of the night. Seriously, Bryon=Hero).

 

Pillow arrangements we have tried to “get” comfortable and/or elevate: 5,049,789

 

Hours a day I’m supposed to use the torture leg extender machine: 6

 

Torture leg machines that have broken so, far, and have had to be replaced: 2

 

Birthdays that I have had during recovery: 1

 

Years on this planet: 41

 

Years I thought I had on this planet: 42

Diamonds!! The float freely inside the face, and they are so pretty! The hands and numbers are actually sapphire blue, as are the little nubbins on the side, called cabochons. The whole thing is just so pretty I can hardly believe it. It’s possible I love jewelry. I’m not sure.

Diamonds!! The float freely inside the face, and they are so pretty! The hands and numbers are actually sapphire blue, as are the little nubbins on the side, called cabochons. The whole thing is just so pretty I can hardly believe it. It’s possible I love jewelry. I’m not sure.

 

Present I bought for myself for my birthday: my first Chopard (yeah, I know it’s not a number, but it cost a bunch of numbers, and it made me happy when I wasn’t feeling so happy. Just pricing it, shopping for it, and negotiating for it, kept me alert and happy for several days. I love it. It adds to my fancy watch collection, and it is glorious. It’s pre-owned, so I got a good deal from an awesome jeweler, which made it affordable. It looks great with jammies. – P.S. Bryon gets nervous when I say things like “my ‘first’ Chopard.” I wonder why?).

 

Days I spent on my last homework assignment: 2

 

Weeks left of the semester: 6

 

Weeks left until I’m allowed to bear any weight: 6 (again: the timing of my first class with this surgery is the absolute worst…but I’m pressing on. Collin told me, the other day, unsolicited, “Mommy, I’m proud of you.” It was singularly, one of the greatest moments of my life. I’m holding that memory in my heart as fuel for the rest of my career, and life).

This is the strap that goes around my leg for the leg torture machine. Collin felt that it made a good hat. I think he looks dashing.

This is the strap that goes around my leg for the leg torture machine. Collin felt that it made a good hat. I think he looks dashing.

 

Bags of frozen squishy pockets I’ve eaten (other people call them pot stickers): 14? Maybe more? I love them.

 

Bouquets of flowers, and new potted flowering plants Bryon has filled my room with: 6

 

Naps I take throughout the day: 2-10 (long vs short 10 min-ish)

 

Nice bruise on the side of my foot, just because it felt like appearing there. It actually hurts too. The best part of this photo is that the striped fabric under my foot is a DRESS! I wasn’t wearing jammies that day. I was dressed, wearing jewelry, and had combed my hair.

Nice bruise on the side of my foot, just because it felt like appearing there. It actually hurts too. The best part of this photo is that the striped fabric under my foot is a DRESS! I wasn’t wearing jammies that day. I was dressed, wearing jewelry, and had combed my hair.

Bruises that continue to pop up, randomly: indeterminable (new one on my foot last week, and more on the back of my knee – they can continue to pop of from my foot to the top of my thigh for the next six months. Pretty).

 

This is the back of my leg. If you are wondering whether this a  bruise that looks worse than it feels, it isn’t. It looks just as bad as it feels. It’s horrendous both ways.

This is the back of my leg. If you are wondering whether this a bruise that looks worse than it feels, it isn’t. It looks just as bad as it feels. It’s horrendous both ways.

Overall, this experience has been, and continues to be, rougher than I had expected it to be. I start physical therapy next week, which promises to be another step towards healing, but also to be painful. Thankfully, my mother-in-law will be taking me to my first appointment, and there is no greater comfort than her at an appointment like that. My orthopedic surgeon promised that I should expect a few steps backward when they start their work, but also that by the time this is all over with, I will be so happy I did it. We shall see! I am still optimistic, and despite my tendency toward depression, especially when I’m stuck in invalid positions, I’ve actually been feeling really great, mentally. I am making a conscious effort to hang onto that positive attitude, and focus on recovery, at the same time.

A Sh*tty Post

Confession: This story is almost a month old…it took me that long to get my shit together and finish this! Sorry!


But….

I’m ready to talk about something totally, absolutely, and ridiculously, humiliating. Are you ready?

No, really?

Are you ready?

Because, it’s about to get all kinds of gross, and personal, in here.

I know that I share here. It’s a nice outlet. My sister has called my “outlet” self-indulgent, which, at the time, I tried very hard to take as the insult it was intended to be. It was hard though, because it occurs to me that almost all communication, except for true listening is self-indulgent. We all want to be heard. So, we talk, write, shout, and send smoke signals.

I know that I’ve been silent for a while. I’ve been…processing…shall we say? I get to do that. I mean, I’m a little fucked up. In the past 36 months, I’ve had my head shaved twice, my skull cracked open, and titanium rammed mere fractions of a millimeter from my brain.

As a quick addendum to that titanium; I’ve recently learned that, at any given moment, my body may decide that the titanium plate and screws, are no longer welcome. It may begin rejecting them, by propelling out the screws at rocket-ship speeds.

Okay, they will propel at slow, glacial speeds. However, any speed at which a screw propels itself from my skull, and through my scalp, feels too fast. The first sign of this will be that I’ll feel the fucking screw…in…my…scalp! Well, I’ll feel it coming through my scalp, like a This Old House episode gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Just, imagine me, brushing my hair that I haven’t cut in two years, because it’s now my security blanket (we’ll get back to that, and why I look like a filthy bag lady – not Rapunzel) and, wham! Screw poking through my skin!

Now, imagine how often that I check my scalp for suspicious lumps. I’m like a pubescent boy who feigns concern for his girlfriend’s breast health. A number with exponents per times per week, I ask Bryon, “was this lump here before?” I ask him so often, in fact, that he always says, “yes,” without even checking. How dare he not take my irrational concern seriously?

Aside from the whole surgery and imminent screw loose (yeah, I get it) thing, I’ve also lost my family. Lost is a weird word choice. I shed them like an extreme form of molting, but the feeling of loss is still there. I can’t exactly eat my family, the way a lizard eats its skin when he’s done shedding and growing. That’d be gross. And, criminal. And, I don’t want to. I’m a vegan.

My therapist suggested that I consider myself adopted. Not to diminish the experience of true adoptees, of course. Still, lots of parents either give up, or are forced to give up their children because they are unable to either physically, or emotionally, provide for them. I’m not much different in that regard, except that I’m an adult. So, now I’m adrift in the world.

Parentless.

That’s a lot of shit to deal with in a relatively short amount of time.

I’ve gotten side-tracked.

For a long time.

Sorry!

I promised you a gross confession.

Physically, I’m doing the best I’ve been doing since I got sick. Brace yourselves: I’m running. No shit. I’m capable of running! R-U-N-N-I-N-G again! Not a lot. And, not fast. And, not every day. But, every step I take that is faster than a walk, is like the greatest step I’ve ever taken. It’s how I imagine it must’ve felt to walk on the moon.

I'm not saying that I high-five my WW poster after treadmill runs, but I high-five my WW poster after treadmill runs.

I'm not saying that I high-five my WW poster after treadmill runs, but I high-five my WW poster after treadmill runs.

I’m on the least amount of drugs I’ve been on in at least three years. In fact, It’s the first time that I’ve not been on a daily opiate regiment. But, when it’s bad, it’s still really bad. I still have an opiate prescription for when I get a massive headache that can’t be controlled by other means, especially because my headaches, when I get them, last for days, because they can be caused by my wack-a-doodle intracranial pressure, and that pain can’t be controlled by a Tylenol.

But, there’s a not-so-well-kept secret about opiates: they back up your poop system. For most people, with normal colons, this is no big deal. When they are done taking them, they eat a couple of prunes, and they are good to go. This is also no big deal, because most people who take opiates don’t need to take them for very long, or very often.

I wish I had a regular colon. Sometimes, just seeing the Oxy bottle in the drawer is enough to block me up for a month. My colon has a mind of its own, and it is susceptible to the power of suggestion. I think it might be a bit of a hypochondriac, frankly. If it even hears of a negative condition, it catches it. Yeah, that’s right, my colon can hear. Can’t yours?

A Pepto commercial for traveler’s diarrhea comes on, and my colon becomes convinced that the mailbox equates to a trek through India, stopping to drink from a well that pulls ground water from a stagnant creek that the locals use to rise the diapers of children infected with cholera. Strangely, I can see hundreds of commercials of Jamie Lee Curtis and her lady-yogurt, and I never find myself being regular.

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This would be no big deal, except that I have (confession time) yet another rare and, this time, humiliating, medical condition: bile salt diarrhea. Bile salt diarrhea can be caused by a number of things, but it’s a relatively rare side effect of removing the gallbladder. Guess who has two thumbs and has had her gall bladder removed?

It’s hard to take a picture of yourself with two thumbs! Ha! This is from me grading the other day, anyway.

My god, my thumb looks HUGE!

My god, my thumb looks HUGE!

 

One of the functions of the gallbladder is that it regulates how much bile the stomach uses, and then gets dumped into your intestines to continue digesting your food in the next stage of digestion. Without it, in some people, the stomach has no idea what to do when food hits it; so, it dumps bile straight into the intestines. Because the intestines are not equipped to digest huge amounts of bile, it rushes, straight through your intestines, along with the undigested food. The stomach has a difficult time turning off the bile dump, and you will continue to pass this bile, rapidly, until it turns off. Of course, you’ve smartly stopped eating by now, because you’re already in the bathroom. Plus, it’ll keep dumping bile through so long as you are eating, and your stomach is sending the signal that there is more food to digest.  

As this problem became more prominent, I sometimes ate, practically, on the toilet, as that’s how quickly my food passed. I never held anything in longer than 15-20 minutes. We are a family with no shame (okay—gross, sometimes); so, we would (and still do), occasionally, play the corn race. When we eat corn, we see who “sees” the corn again first. I always won. By days. Because I always saw it again within minutes, I continue to be the reigning corn race champ! Undefeated!

I have to take my victories where I can get them. I’m not exactly going to win any Olympic gold medals in my lifetime.

As you can imagine, this is a relatively difficult problem to diagnose. You go through the following stages:

Did I seriously not make it to the bathroom last night? That was totally embarrassing. Hope that doesn’t happen again.

  • OMG. Again?
  • Again?
  • Wait. This is ridiculous.
  • I’m too embarrassed to tell the doctor that I shit myself…regularly.
  • Okay, I should tell him, because I saw an entire undigested piece of pizza last night. Am I getting any food?
  • Hang on…if I’m shitting everything I eat, why are my thighs still so big?
  • Nah, I’ve got this under control! I can drive the kid to school, without a towel under me, so long as I don’t eat before noon, and not after 9 pm.
  • Wait…that’s not normal.
  • Okay, sucked it up, and the doctor said to add bulk fiber and take Immodium. He didn’t seem phased that I have to take 20 to make it stop. 20! Hmmm. Can you OD on Immodium? Stupid military medicine.
  • Whelp, it’s been six months, and now, I’m wearing Depends to a job interview. Is this a reasonable solution? What if I get the job? Is this the long-term plan? I can’t work two hours away, and wear Depends!
  • Do Depends show through these pants? The students will totally be able to tell.
  • I’m so fucking hungry. I can’t go on not eating through a full day of teaching and driving, just so I don’t have to wear Depends under my clothes!
  • Back to the doctor. Fucking military medicine.
  • Ugh. Gastroenterology. Of course, I have to do a lower GI thing with the poop scope.
  • Phew. This is fixed with a simple med. Why couldn’t this have been easier?

So, yeah. It’s easily controlled. One simple med, and I’ve never had another problem. It slows down the digestive process, and I’m totally fine. But, if I take the digestive slowing med, and I have a headache that week, where I have to take opiates, I’d never go to the bathroom again. I think my colon would rupture. I say that jokingly, but in reality, it’s a possibility. If I had to take opiates, for say, weeks on end, and I took my slowing med, I could actually die, eventually. I have to be super careful to monitor the ol’ pooper.

Stool softeners: not just for post partum mommies.

After a headache that requires opiates, it takes anywhere from a week, to a month (not even kidding) to go again, “naturally.” We call the ensuing gut swelling my poop babies. And, they hurt. I can’t bend, twist, or move, because they get pretty fucking big.

I’ve learned that the best thing to do is to get some control over it, pretty early, before I look three months pregnant with Collin’s poop baby sibling. Ex-Lax has become my friend. Barring that, Ducolax suppositories. Please pray for me, that it doesn’t come to the second solution very often. They suck. If you’ve ever needed one, you know why. Dear Hera, the fire.

But, Ex-Lax can take more than one dose, and it’s a delicate balance. A very delicate balance.

Take a dose. Wait twelve hours. Nothing.

Take another dose. Wait twelve hours. Still nothing. Ponder whether you want to live or die.

Take another dose. Wait twelve hours, and know you are moving towards the Ducolax in the morning. Also know that the third dose (or the previous two) can open the gates of hell at any moment, and if it does, it will be horrible because it took so long.

Wake up at two a.m. and hate your very existence.

This is what happened to me over the weekend.

From the hours of two a.m. until nine, I pooped. I pooped everything I’ve ever eaten, in my life. I pooped everything everyone has ever eaten in their entire lives. Only it wasn’t like this:

 

At least not at first. It’s like passing softballs through a straw, until you get to the end; when all of the sudden, it’s like Jeff Bridges on the toilet, and you wish you were dead. It’s difficult to determine which is worse: softballs or Jeff Bridges. Softballs come with cramps that and blood; Jeff Bridges comes with, well, Mississippi Mud.

Then, you fall asleep on the couch, cold and sweaty, and you can start all over with the digestive slowing meds. For the next week or so, you get to deal with blood and the dreaded “fissures.” Seriously, how much do you know about me, right now?

 

I switched my insurance to Tricare Standard, instead of Prime, which gave me a new primary care provider. She pointed out that my digestive slowing med came in a different format, which has changed my life once again, and made it even more effective, and made it work even better, if that was possible, so I’m gloriously happy. We’ll see what happens the next time I have to take an opiate.

 

But, I’ve got a system to manage my co-“conditions.” It may not always be a comfortable one, but it works. It may sometimes require Ex-Lax and me laying on the bathroom floor, and praying that if there’s a God, I can have a serious talk with him about why he made me out of spare parts. It also may make me eternally grateful for steroid cream – did I mention that crapping straight bile is equivalent to vomiting bile out of a hole it’s not designed for, so it causes surface burns to your skin? Yet another time I find myself eternally grateful for Big Pharma and western medicine.

 

So, there’s my gross confession story. As I was lying on the couch this weekend, cold and clammy, I thought to myself: someone would love to know about this glamorous part of being sick that has previously gone unreported. Am I right?