Receiving

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Happy New Year, gentle readers!  I hope you had marvelous holidays.  Ours were fun, sometimes raucous, and blissfully peaceful – that’s life for you.

One of our ever-so-generous and much appreciated presents was a gift certificate from my parents for Amazon (Thanks again!), and we spent more than half of it buying up songs for the I-Pod: click, click, boom!  In honor of that, here’s a playlist with a wild assortment of the old and new to start the year off with an optimistic shake and shimmy, just the way I like it.

Also, just in case you’re not a local, the bridge is the St. John’s in North Portland.  It is not an overstatement to say that it is my favorite bridge in the world. Sure, there are others that are more marvelous, spanning greater lengths and heights, but none of them give me the sensation of seeing this bridge.  I can remember the first time, sitting so stately and serene to the north on Highway 30.  I gasped at the exquisite color and the fantastically Gothic arches, just wanting to hover, hummingbird-like and admire its beauty.

Back to the music – it might just make you gasp, too.

“Well You Needn’t” -  Chet Baker

“Dog Days Are Over” – Florence + the Machine

“God Only Knows” – The Beach Boys

“Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo” – The Rolling Stones

“London Calling” – The Clash (also one of the greatest album covers ever)

“Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” – Paul Simon

“Riga Girls” -  The Weepies

“Up on Cripple Creek” – The Band

“Let ‘Em In” – Wings

“Them There Eyes” – Billie Holiday

“Fidelity” – Regina Spektor

“Stay by Me” – Annie Lennox

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – Blue Oyster Cult (Oh yes I did!)

“Star Eyes” – Charlie Parker

“In Between Days” – The Cure

“A Boy Named Sue” – Johnny Cash

“Don’t Stop Believin’” – Journey

“Move” – Bireli Lagrene

“What Is and What Should Be” – Led Zeppelin

“Les Portes du Souvenir” – Les Nubians

“Expectations” – Belle & Sebastian

“L.A.Woman” – The Doors

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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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Yesterday was a good day.  I had a great work out, a fun Nia class, a leisurely hot bath, and quality writing time.  I also did some web research on the hormones I’m taking and learned that the number one complaint about them was weight gain, especially in the thighs.  I cannot tell you how much better I feel about my tight pants!

The absolute highlight, however, came at just the right moment.  I was watching my usual 4:00 hour of television, waiting for the hubster to get home so we could head to the nursery and buy a plum tree to replace the apple in the front yard.  Suddenly there was a bright spot in my vision, and I knew I was in trouble.  The first trace of impending doom, the awful light show of a migraine.  I turned off the lights, closed the blinds, and put the blanket over my eyes, waiting for the pain that I knew was coming, disappointed that my diamond day was taken down a notch, bummed that the afternoon tree-planting would have to be postponed, and irritated that nothing would make my head feel better.

Well, almost.  When the hubster arrived, he had a box in his hand.  I could not remember ordering anything.  Then he told me where it was from: Arizona.  Kelli! My friend Kelli sent me a care package.  Suddenly my head felt a little better, and I cried at the kindness in the world.  In addition to the sweet card, pickled okra, prickly pear jelly, and the adorable zippered bag (all made by Kelli) was a deliciously creamy bar of hazelnut chocolate, but we gobbled it up pronto.   I don’t think my headache minded a bit!

How nice it is to have friends, near and far.  Thank you for the wonderful treats!  I hope you have a diamond day…

After what seemed an interminable twenty-eight days without rain, of living in a vastly foreign version of  Portland, the skies finally opened up.  I was watching television yesterday afternoon when I was hit by one of the most glorious scents – the first drops of rain hitting pavement – wafting through the air.  At last!

Thankfully, the the initially fleeting sprinkles were only a preview of what was to come.  As the hubster and I ventured out to the show, as my Grandma Frances would say, to take in The Brothers Bloom (more about that on Friday) on two-for-Tuesday night at our very favorite movie house, The Academy (two movie tickets + popcorn + Reese’s Pieces +  hard cider for the hubster + tip = $16!), the rain began again.   By the time we arrived at the theater, the drops had grown larger, more certain of themselves.

Much to my delight, the rain held steady through the gorgeous film, the tarred roads puddle filled and shimmering with moisture in the evening light.  At bed time, the gentle patter of drops on the tin shed roof lulled me into sweet slumber.  Thankfully, the rain has yet to cease, the sky a radiant combination of sun, cloud, and brilliant blue.  Portland, no longer foreign, is home again.

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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