Learning

You are currently browsing the archive for the Learning category.

Greetings, peeps! Oh my goodness, if you are a Portlander, do you have the windows open right now, to let that warm breeze in? Hoot and holler! It’s sunny! I have sheets and clothes hanging out on the line. It is a good day, great even.

And then there is the title to this post, which is not so great. Not at all. If you’ve been here a while, you know that I had surgery nearly five years ago to rid myself of the constant and very debilitating pain of endometriosis and the majority of my reproductive hardware it destroyed. If you haven’t, here is a brief recap: in one very long surgery, for which I am grateful to have been under the deep sleep of anesthetics, I lost nearly half my blood, one ovary, my fallopian tubes, uterus, and scores of scar tissue and adhesions caused by years under the wrath of some of the worst endometriosis my specialist had ever seen. If you’d like to read about it, use the sidebar or the tag at the bottom of this post for a fancy search. Much was written! There is also a picture of me looking dorky in farmer hat and nightgown. I have no shame!

But, I digress. I’ve spent the majority of the last five years pretty happily pain-free, which was fucking fantastic, as you can imagine. But it’s come back. Bit by bit, inch by inch, and the pain is constant again. Double drat. I knew it was likely, and my specialist told me that I might have to have surgery again in five to ten years. I would have preferred ten. You can’t always get what you want.

So, next week, I’m going under the knife again to rid my body of the insidious tendrils binding my insides and giving me such exquisite pain. I might lose the last vestige of my internal female-ness, too, that little left ovary that could, which saddens me some. But I am smart enough to know that if it’s hurting more than helping, I will be better off in the long run.

As one would expect, I am hoping for the best. I hope you will, too. If you are willing and open, please say a prayer, send good juju, jump up and down while laughing, pick your pleasure. The hubster and I would be most grateful.

And in the meantime, get out there and enjoy life. It is marvelous and precious, truly!

Pin it on PinterestShare on TwitterShare on TumblrShare via email+1Submit to StumbleUpon

Tags:

Giddy!

Feeling a little giddy, peeps.

I got my first byline in Willamette Week!

I took the last three photos at the bottom right.

Keep your eyes on on the page and the street.

I hope to see us there a whole lot more!

Pin it on PinterestShare on TwitterShare on TumblrShare via email+1Submit to StumbleUpon

H E A R T

Hello! Meet my almost great-niece, Luna. I say almost because we are not actually blood related, but even if we were, I couldn’t love her more than I already do. I was a mentor to her mom, Solveig (soul-vay), through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program some ten years ago and can’t imagine my life without her or Luna in it. The space they occupy in my heart is a wild kaleidescope, with me marveling at the fluid beauty of it every single day.

Luna is obviously adorable, a sweetheart of the highest degree, super smart, possessing very fine motor skills, and though she did not show it in these photos, the giver of the most dazzling smile! But that is only part of what I want to tell you. This sweet girl of almost ten months has Congenital Heart Defects. In case you are like I was and don’t know much about them, here are some facts compiled from the Congenital Heart Public Health Consortium:

Congenital means present at birth. Solveig actually learned of Luna’s defects while pregnant, at her 20-week appointment, which allowed her to take even better care of Luna while eagerly awaiting her arrival.

Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) are the most common birth defects, occurring in almost 1% of births.

Common examples include holes in the inside walls of the heart and narrowed or leaky valves. In more severe forms, blood vessels or heart chambers may be missing, poorly formed, and/or in the wrong place.

Nearly 40,000 infants in the U.S. are born with CHDs and are the most common heart problem in pregnant women.

Over 85% of babies born with a CHD now live to at least 18 (very good news!). However, children born with more severe forms of CHDs are less likely to reach adulthood.

Surgery is often not a cure. Many individuals with CHDs require additional operations and/or medications as adults.

Most causes of CHDs are unkown (Luna’s too). Only 15 – 20% of all CHDs are related to known genetic conditions.

Luna has Transposition of the Great Arteries, a Ventricular Septal Defect, and Double Outlet Inlet Left Ventricle (Solveig corrected a mistake I made). In a nutshell, Luna’s heart has holes where they do not belong, an artery in the wrong place, as well as arteries connecting to the wrong chambers. To the best of my knowledge, this means her heart is only pumping blood to one chamber, mixing blood that should be separated, not allowing enough oxygenated blood to the rest of the body, and causing strain on the heart and lungs, which can lead to pretty serious complications.

She’s already had one surgery, two days after she was born, and will have another on Friday, to help correct the problem, though there is no magic bullet, unfortunately. So, if you would, please say a little prayer, send a little love, some healing thoughts, anything and everything you’ve got. I would be ever so grateful!

 

Pin it on PinterestShare on TwitterShare on TumblrShare via email+1Submit to StumbleUpon

Frisky

This morning, a boom summoned me to wake. One of those crazy moments when it seems the world is called to attention, but everything looks the same, only the racing of my heart and the weary gaze of the hubster to confirm it was not the stuff of dreams.

Then, later, but not much, there he was. Out near the little birdbath in the side yard, he hopped, right wing askew. We shared a moment of observation before I asked him if he was hurt.

Like I invoked some sort of dare, he darted vigorously across the yard and into the safe prickle of Oregon grape leaves.

His kind came and watched from high in the tree, called out, summoning him to join their search for bugs. Sadly, he could not.

The hubster, geared up for work, was called, and we worked to catch him. More arduous than I expected, the bird did not want to be captured. When the hubster did finally get him in his grasp, the little fellow’s lament was loud and wrenching.

I made him comfortable, with food, and water, and an old towel that kept him from skittering on the plastic of the cage. Then we sat for a bit, calmed our  jittery hearts, and he closed his eyes slowly, maybe in pain, maybe just to shield them from the sun.

We drove together, through downtown, where he jumped and clung to the bars, the raucous roar of diesels and the cacophony of a city on lunch break so very much to bear.

Then it was up the winding road and the terror of one tunnel of darkness and then another. Finally we turned in the parking lot and the kind-faced man with the Red-Tailed Hawk, beautifully old and wizened, showed us the way.

There was hope and gratitude and the possibility of me releasing him back to the place he was found.

I got the call later that it was not meant to be, that wing no longer meant to fly.

And then I remembered last week, in the heat before the Fourth, when I watered the garden. A young flicker came, him, I am almost certain, and fluffed and preened and waddled before fluttering off, wings heavy with moisture, and how happy I felt to witness it. That is what I will try to keep.

Pin it on PinterestShare on TwitterShare on TumblrShare via email+1Submit to StumbleUpon

 

I awoke with a start Monday morning, 3:45 on the button. The vise grip of some dark apparition around my left arm. As someone with a very high tolerance for pain, I was more than peeved. I wriggled and stretched and rubbed and won that first round, drifting back to sleep after about an hour. When I rose, it had returned and gotten worse, even spreading to my shoulder and back. I felt nauseous and it became increasingly difficult to fill my lungs. Then I remembered the cheesy “Just a Little Heart Attack” video with Elizabeth Banks, and wondered if I could be having one.

I dialed the advice line quick-like, and the nurse, when I described everything, told me to get to the hospital, and pronto. “Do not take a shower!” So the hubster zip-zipped our golden chariot to the emergency room in record time. Upon my arrival, I got a wheelchair and EKG stickers in places I’d never have thought to check. Sure enough, my little heart was at a full gallop, and that damn vise was no looser on my left arm, either.

The nurse asked if there was any possibility it could be a panic attack, and to quote a recent callous observer of my life, “Colleen, you have no real problems.” I concurred, despite the fact that having no real problems does not equate with a lack of feelings, save in the observer, the biatch. Until my arm got ensnared by some unseen evil, I’d been pretty snazzy.

So, more tests. I got my blood expertly drawn, twice (no bruising!), a chest x-ray that made me feel like I’d stepped into the world of the Incredible Hulk, and, saving the best for last, an ultrasound of my left arm, because, dag-nabbit, it might smart like a heart attack but be a right and proper blood clot, for those run in the family.

And this is where I must make note of the idiosyncrasies of medical professionals. On Monday, the nurses who drew my blood complimented my good veins. “So plump I could stab it without looking.” The ultrasound tech, who joked that he learned to use the machine over lunch, said, “Wow, you image very well. Look at that valve!” Then I remembered back to my hysterectomy and my anesthesiologist uttering, “You have a beautiful spine. I would love to give it an epidural.” And, finally, the nurse who emptied my catheter bag, holding the pitcher of urine like a trophy, exclaimed, “You have beautiful pee!” It’s a different world.

And back to mine. Despite the excitement and wonder my body provided and the battery of tests and nearly six hours spent waiting and wondering, no single resolution was made. I, Colleen Sohn, remain a person without any real problems. For the sake of speculation and for someone somewhere to get a good chuckle, the likeliest source of my horrible pain? A trio of muscles, the left bicep, deltoid, and pec pulled while sleeping or applying body oil. Oh bother, and a whole week thrown off kilter.

Happy Friday!

 p.s. The photo is a detail of Richmond Burton’s “Echoing Green” at the Portland Art Museum. Pretty!

 

Pin it on PinterestShare on TwitterShare on TumblrShare via email+1Submit to StumbleUpon

« Older entries