Giving

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How cute is our little Schmoo? I think that is nick name no. 100 for him, by the way. Funny how that goes.

My favorite four-year-old is now FIVE! It was a fun filled afternoon of picking him up from school (where he is rather handily learning and singing Chinese), choosing and reading books from the library, watching a movie, making pizza, puzzles, and colossal block towers. Squee!

We hosted a cocktail party with some of our best pals, with much imbibing, laughing, eating, and reminiscing after one GIGANTIC glitch. I went to the store to get ice and those last minute items one always seems to need, and on the way home the poor little Mini went kaput. On Powell Boulevard! During rush hour! Thankfully, I was rescued by Kate and Kimberly, two lovely ladies in a Volkswagen with Montana plates (Are you reading? Please let me buy you that beer!). They stopped to help while others zoomed and honked, even though my hazards were madly blinking. Then, the nice TriMet driver instructed a passel of burly teens to push my car to the safety of the Wendy’s parking lot. The cherry on top? Kate and Kimberly loaded the wagon of all my party goods without a second thought and whisked me home. Oh, fantastically marvelous helping hands of the universe, I LOVE YOU!

As for the Mini, it was the transmission, and it could not be salvaged. Apparently it was a problem particular to 2003, and one that we forestalled by babying it and only driving some 55,000 miles. So now, a bit ahead of schedule, we are getting a new Mini, and our mechanic is getting gently used one in fine condition, save one minor (ahem) detail. It all works out in the end, doesn’t it?

Banana Cardamom Ginger Smoothie

We bought a Vitamix, and it is ON, peeps, ON!

Sometimes I forget what a looker the hubster is.

This photo reminded me in a BIG way.

 Her tights had sparkles on them!

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To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.

Johannes A. Gaertner

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Hello my friends!

Gosh, it feels so good to be back in blogland!  Now if I could just be in the land of the fully mobile and conscious, that would be grand.  I am not complaining, however.  I feel better with each passing day, requiring smaller doses of narcotics to keep the pain down, while gaining more strength and mobility.  When I first got home, I was popping pills like crazy and had to use my walker (remember that?) every time I wanted to go anywhere, though my trips were mostly limited between our bed and the bathroom.  Going all the way to the kitchen was considered a big feat!

Now, I only need the walker about half of the time,  moving  quite freely on the first floor of the house.  I don’t know when I will muster up the strength to go upstairs, but, thanks to my superstar hubster and guest blogger, I have practically everything I need in our bedroom: a borrowed air conditioner for this hellish weather (107 today, ugh), a boom box, television, lap top, watercolors, books, and snacks!   It’s pretty darn cool, pun intended.

Endometriosis

Since a lot of people have asked questions about the endometriosis that led me to my surgery and this cozy bedroom lair, I thought I’d give a little information about it, and why it was causing so much trouble for me.  In a nutshell, endometriosis is when tissue from inside the uterus migrates elsewhere in the pelvic cavity (no one knows why, when, or how).  It is problematic because it has hormones and a monthly period just like the uterus, only it can’t exit the body like a normal period does, so it stays inside a woman’s abdomen, where it creates adhesions, like scar tissue.  Think about it like this – you spill something on the counter without cleaning it up right away.  When you return in a few hours, you touch the spot and your hand sticks to it, and sometimes even creates a kind of gooey, taffy-like bond.  Only with endometriosis, you can’t wash it off.  The taffy just spreads, connecting tissue and organs that have no business being such close neighbors, and, at least in my case, causing some pretty intense pain.

This is why my surgery could not be completed laparoscopically, and I had to be opened up.  My insides were so thoroughly bound and twisted with taffy-like adhesions that my doctor needed to get inside and carefully cut everything apart.  Thankfully, she was able to do so.  In the process, she removed my uterus (complete with a large adenomyoma), my fist-sized right ovary, both fallopian tubes, as many adhesions as she could, and then zapped the remaining visible endometriosis with a really good laser.  It’s no wonder it took over six hours!

Waves

Being in the hospital was a very emotional experience for me, like I was out at sea and riding a series of waves to shore, to home, and with each wave came a different emotion: gratitude, release, sadness, disbelief, joy, and wonder.  Gratitude -  I survived my surgery.  I was alive, and the healing process was underway.  Release – I am a pretty independent person, but in this situation, I had to, quite literally, hand my body over to strangers.  They fed me, clothed me, bathed me, all with great kindness, compassion, and respect.  Sadness – Even though I had never wanted children, I felt sad that this definitively left that choice out of my hands, though I guess it never really was.   I am not driving this bus!  Disbelief – For my recovery, I was placed in the Family Birthing Center, as the staff there would best know how to treat someone in my condition.  Perhaps this seems a logical choice for someone who has already had children, but for me, it seemed a bit, well, odd.  The lady who can never have children, infertile Myrtle, chockablock with mothers and babies?  This same feeling of disbelief, however, was replaced by Joy – To be in the most precious place in a hospital, to witness those first days of life, the first tiny cries, each beautiful babe swaddled, hatted, and loved by all.  Finally Wonder – There is so much kindness in the world, so many talented people doing their best work, so much love, and I am a living, breathing part of it all.

Thank You

Now it is time for some shout-outs.  First and foremost, to my amazing husband.  Through our eighteen years of  my increasing pain and suffering, he has always been a source of great love and support.  I could not imagine a better partner or friend, no siree Bob.  During my hospital stay, it was the hours he was there that I felt most safe.  Listening to him type away on his laptop or hearing his whispers in the dark, it was almost as if I were home and not hooked to a catheter, pulse oximeter, and an IV.  I was free.

My fantastic doctors.  First, to Petra Caruso, Naturopathic MD.  One of the most kind and compassionate health care professionals I have ever had the privilege to meet, she has been on this journey with me for nearly two years, constantly striving to find new, healthy solutions to make my life more comfortable.  When she realized our options had been exhausted, she recommended my awesome specialist, Dr. Liz Newhall.  Oh goodness, I am ever so pleased to have found her way while on my own.  She is an amazingly talented woman, highly educated in her craft of women’s health, with a heart and humor to match.  After my surgery, when I asked her how bad it was, and she told me that it was one of the worst cases she’d seen in her thirty years of practice, she said, “You would have won a blue ribbon at the fair, no doubt about it.”

YOU, the people of cyberspace, across the street, across town, across the world.  Thank you so much for your prayers, kind thoughts, cards, meals, visits, everything.  I felt and continue to feel so bouyed by all the love being sent my way, so incredibly grateful to be alive!

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Mount Hood is always a good photo to play with

Mount Hood is always a good photo to play with

Colleen and I are often “accused” of having rose colored glasses on. It used to be something I felt guilty for, as if I didn’t have a grasp on reality. I now view this ‘trait’ as something to embrace since there are many events in life beyond my control.  Sometimes the only thing I do have the ability to shape is my view. Colleen is fond of saying “I’m not driving this bus”, and I agree.

A shift in perspective can be a powerful thing. As I look back over the past year and a half, it has been a little bit of a roller coaster and I thought I would share some of my hospital reflecting…

Colleen’s Surgery

This was a fairly serious body change for Colleen and obviously at the forefront of our lives at the moment. With the amount of endometriosis, it is probably one of the more invasive hysterectomies that a person can have.  (Actually, the hysterectomy was a small part of the procedure.  Think trying to free up taffy growing inside you that has been twisting your organs for 20+ years.)

With glasses: I have a lot of hope that Colleen will feel a good sense of freedom from the abdominal issues that she has suffered with. After all, the whole point is of all this is to make things better than they are now.  I’m hopeful she will enjoy her time in Colorado without having to worry about serious cramping and pain this September. From a “me” perspective, the event has been a great chance to be able to help someone I love who can’t help herself.  It is a great gift to be able to make a difference in her recovery and feel that much closer to her.

Job Changing/Economic “crisis”

I have changed positions three times in the last year, gone from having a large chunk of vacation to having to fight to get a chance to help Colleen for a day or two, and taken a fairly significant financial hit.

With glasses:I now work for a functional company with people I enjoy being around. My commute is smaller. I am not making as much and not as able to save as much, but a good portion of the 401k savings went up in smoke anyway!    My work is much more varied now and I really enjoy this variety.  My boss and colleagues are pleasant and I feel a strong desire to truly help the company I work for grow and improve.  I find myself very content and intrigued with the possibilities that the future holds.

It is certainly not always easy to find a positive perspective on perceived ‘bad’ situations but I have enjoyed the challenge and awareness that comes from the search.

I think I will put my glasses on now and rest near my lovely wife as she does some healing…

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This is our house last April, right after having it painted the utterly perfect green color.  To the left is our ginormous apple tree, a few blossoms open.  Little did we know this would be the last spring for this marvelously productive tree.

We worried about the apple from the moment we moved into the house.  Someone had done some very strange shaping and the enormous root system made it appear as though the tree was planted about eight feet from it’s current location, then snaked on the ground to the right spot and allowed to grow, and grow, and grow.  The tree was tall and made tons and tons of apples.  I spent many a day lining them up along the front wall, ready for any passerby who had a hankering.  Then there was the time contemplating recipes for cider, apple butter, apple sauce, apple muffins, apple crisp, apple pie, apple cake, triple apple cake!  Sometimes it made my head spin.

Then, one day about a month ago, I was out front weeding and felt a certain springiness.  Had it been a spring in my step, I wouldn’t have worried.  I’m that kind of gal.  As I walked closer to the crazy roots, it increased, and I noticed a hole, small, but enough to signal trouble.  The tree was starting to heave out of the ground.  Thankfully it lasted through the awful wind storm.  Having it topple then would have been a rather big bummer.

This is our yard without it, a gaping space of light and emptiness.  I cried the day the men cut it down.  It had provided so much for us – a riot of beautifully scented blooms, a place to watch and feed the wildlife, shade, secrecy, wonderfully crisp apples, the opportunity to share with friends and strangers.  Thankfully there is always a silver lining.   It opens up the view of the house and provides us with the space for me to indulge in a sometimes obsessive love for cherries, especially the tart kind that are great for pies and drying.  Now I can have my very own tree!  I hope there is a dwarf variety to suit our small front yard.  I don’t want a repeat.  Think good thoughts, won’t ya?

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