The Gallbladder Experience

What’s a gallbladder you ask? Well, it is a tiny yet important part of your digestive system. However, I never knew how important until I started having severe stomach pain.

Apparently I have lived with a bum gallbladder for quite some time. Like my ENTIRE life. Seriously not a cool conversation to have with anyone–family, friend, or stranger. But the good news is I finally know the answers to the what and why questions about my digestive health that have plagued me off and on for many years.

As it turns out, I am the exact kind of person to have gallstones and, subsequently, gallbladder issues, according to those in the medical field. Female, fair, fertile (um…hello? 3 kids!), forty (not there yet, but close enough), and….wait for it…..fat. Yes that last one stung quite a bit when I heard it. Although I am perfectly healthy by all the numbers I think are important–cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure–my surgeon said it’s that other number (my weight) that is too high. Nothing like discussing one’s rolls of fat and skin with a surgeon all the while sitting half-naked under a medical gown on an exam table. Bad visual, I know. Sorry.

For each person who experiences gallstones, and other side conditions for that matter, the “adventure” is never the same. Yes, symptoms and effects are similar but never identical. In my case, I have had several bouts of gastrointestinal issues that have sent me to the ER several times since my 20’s. Most recently one virus that nearly had me hospitalized and two rounds of severe stomach pain, cramping, and other unpleasant GI symptoms that don’t bear repeating. All of this occurred within the last year and a half, which left me with plenty of questions beyond the ones I had going into each ER visit.

The diagnosis was finally made by a wonderful and knowledgeable ER doctor at the end of February and surgery took place a few weeks later to remove my gallbladder and the umpteen gallstones it contained. Now I am healing and training my digestive system to tolerate food again. And for those of you wondering what and if I have eaten anything for the past several months, it has been a menu of rice, chicken, pears, good quality bagels, and TONS of water. Consumption was never more than a 1/2 cup of rice, 4 or so bites of roasted or grilled chicken breast (lightly seasoned with salt & pepper), half a plain bagel, or half a pear. And not all in one sitting either. My stomach ached so badly that drinking water was all I could do at times to simply stay hydrated. Not a great diet but the only one I could tolerate for several months. I am slowly adding food and beverages other than the bland ones listed above back into my diet. Slow and steady is the key to the recovery process. Many family and friends asked if this diet was healthy. My canned response became, “This the best diet no one wants to be on. I have lost 30 pounds, with most of it lost from February to April. I am no health expert but was told throughout this ordeal by my doctors and nurses that we can go without food for a while, but not without water; so stay hydrated.”

After this long and very unexpected absence from the blog, I am back in the swing of things. Ready to tackle all  the good, real, funny that has been filling my idea book, the voice recorder on my phone, and the mental notepad in my head. At least this experience has produced some interesting conversations in real life and manifested itself as potential material for the blog. More to come, I assure you. In the meantime, how have you spent the past four months?

School’s Out

(Feel free to add the remaining Alice Cooper lyrics out loud if you wish.)

Well, another year is in the books. Can’t believe my oldest just finished 4th grade & the twins “graduated” from PreK! Every year around this time I feel a bit nostalgic about my days as a student and as a teacher. As a student, the memories of friends gathered in the halls, plotting the details of our days lounging by the pool and nights spent at baseball games and sleepovers come to mind. As a teacher, I would take the first week off and rest to recuperate from the stresses of end of the year responsibilities.

One of my fondest memories from childhood summers was our annual vacation to Illinois to visit relatives for three weeks when I was 12. We journeyed to the Midwest every year until I was in high school but this time we drove, which we hardly ever did. I remember loving the math class I had the year prior and was determined to calculate the total miles between our home and Grammie and Grampie’s house, the miles and time traveled between cities and attractions along the way, and how many days we would spend in the car. I know, I know. I completely geeked out on math that summer, but it sure was fun.

Another memorable summer was the year our neighborhood had an enormous 4th of July celebration. It was complete with a decorated bike parade, a water balloon fight, fireworks, my first late curfew, and homemade ice cream stations for all the kids to build sundaes. That was the best summer ever on our block.

So what are your most vivid summer memories? What did you do? Where did you go? Who was with you on your adventures? Feel free to share your memorable moments in the comments below.

Home…..for now

Home_For_NowThis post was originally written in 2014 as a follow-up to this post. I am now at a place of peace and can finally share the carnival ride that is packing, moving, unpacking, and everything in between. Please note that more posts on our emotional roller coaster that is selling, moving and buying again are to come.

I love this time of the day—the one where the light shines in just the right way to make you feel all warm and cozy inside. It’s that moment you know you are home. Except that this isn’t my home/house/abode; it’s the rental we’ve taken over for the next year or two from the gracious owner and why there are still yet-to-be-unpacked boxes stacked about. I keep telling myself It’s just a rental. It’s not yours. But don’t get cocky and not take care of it as it could cost you. Sigh.

You see, I have three b-e-a-utiful kiddos who are very (ahem) active. Choice word knowing that there are nights I lay in bed freaking out. Thinking those horrible thoughts about children falling over the half wall which is a direct drop to the first level. Or one of them tumbling down the three sections of stairs. Or how much painting will need to be done to cover the marks/scratches/dings in the walls of Jaime’s house. I know it is no use worrying as tomorrow has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34). But when something isn’t yours and you are on a seriously tight budget, you want to take care of it so you don’t end up paying for damages. In the interim, I’ll do the following (in order) each time I have a freak-out moment:  1) take a BIG deep breath, 2) remind myself that God is in charge, and 3) pray as many times as it takes to calm down and put my focus back on living my life as would be pleasing to the Lord.

I am thankful for those moments like the one I had tonight walking into the foyer. Mind you the kids were with A at Wal-Mart for a quick pick up of items my feeble mind forgot on the last trip. But the house was quiet, the setting sun shone bright through the windows in the stairwell, and for just a second I felt at home and comfortable in a place that was not mine. Proof that God is good. All the time.

Veggies Over All Else

veggiesI never thought I’d see the day that one of my kiddos would actually choose vegetables over the main part of the meal. Never. Ever. Never! But that’s exactly what she did.

So tonight I gave the kids a choice of cucumber slices or a tossed salad as the veggie portion of dinner. We were having taquitos with salsa &/or sour cream as our main meal and I wasn’t surprised when the boys chose cucumber slices and K chose salad. Then she did one better and asked for cherry tomatoes to be added. That’s my girl!

We were all very excited about this meal as it is a special treat, er deviation, from my attempts at home cooking. The boys were very satisfied with cucumbers and ranch and K wolfed down her salad first thing. Then M was a bit skeptical of the name taquito for what he was eating. After explaining to all the three what taquitos were and what they were made of, the boys heartily gobbled up what remained on their plates. K, however, was not thrilled anymore. She insisted on sour cream for dipping and then proceeded to dip her taquito into the sour cream and lick it off repeatedly. She then declared that she wanted more salad and no “ta-key-os.” When told “no, we eat what we are given and then ask for more of what we liked,” she cried and whined and professed that she only likes salad and nothing else.

It is simply amazing how much she likes fruits and veggies over most anything else. As our pediatrician would say, “As long as she’s gaining weight and not having any other health issues, then why not?”

What do your kids prefer–protein or veggies? Have any tips/tricks for getting your kids to eat their vegetables? Leave a suggestion by commenting below.

SOLD: a farewell to our home

The following is a narrative from 2014 about our then-impending home sale and move back to the city. I am finally at a place where I can begin to publicly share the emotional rollercoaster that changed our lives for the better, albeit unbeknownst to us at the time. More posts on our moving adventure to come.

“People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they’re really saying is that something you didn’t want to happen at all…..has happened. [We have sold our home. The only home our children have ever known,] did I ever tell you that? It’s a lovely [home], and in a week it will be something really depressing…[someone else’s home]……….Soon, it’ll just be a memory……….But the truth is… I’m heartbroken. I feel as if a part of me has died, and [all our dreams as a family have been squashed until numb], and no one can ever make it right.”

Sometimes it is hard to find the right way to describe excitement and heartbreak in the same breath. When exploring my complex and often contradicting emotions about our move, the only thing that came to mind was the above abridged quote from You’ve Got Mail when Kathleen Kelly is forced by economics to sell the bookstore her mother started.

Our home was intended to be a ten-year-or-more plan. However, things started to become very clear while I was pregnant with C (2nd year in the home) that our longevity per plan was on the lower end. The drive to work, cost of daycare and time spent away from home versus actually at home were all brutal. Hello?! I was driving 45 minutes just to take C to school and then turn around to drive another 45 minutes back home. Twice a day to boot.

Looking back, maybe we should have sold right before the bubble burst, about nine months after C was born. It would have saved us the headache and heartbreak of losing our shorts at the ten-year mark.

(sigh)

I am not bitter. Really, I’m not. I just have a teeny, tiny, minute amount of emotional irk and that’s all. I know that every time I take the kids to school in 10 minutes or less, it has all been worth it.

So long humble dwelling. Farewell dear home. You were good to us for 10 long years and always felt like home each and every time we walked in the door. Your walls heard all and absorbed the happiness and sorrow of all five of us. Thank you for keeping us safe, warm (& cool), and dry every day we inhabited your structure. Goodbye home sweet home.