2009 Recap

I really can’t believe what a blur 2009 was. Every year I think, ‘this is the year things will slow down’ and all it does is speed up. I guess the older you get the faster time flies. I wish I had known this when I was younger and quit being in such a dang hurry to get older! 😉

Here’s a 2009 recap with some Christmas, Birthday, and Mia (who’s doing great, btw and did NOT come down with Parvo!!!) pictures thrown in for fun.

Way too cute!

January: We purchased a new camera and I’ve bombarded this site with photos since. I’d like to think I’m getting better at taking good photos at least. 🙂 This was the month I also revealed how obsessed my kids have become with nerf dart guns. Kayla finished and came home from her internship at Disneyland.

FebruaryMarch: I (Tracie) turned 29 AGAIN. For the 11th time. Imagine that? We spent a beautiful weekend at Lincoln City, OR for my birthday. Cody turned 8 in March. I didn’t report much else in February or March and now it seems to be a blur. I really must post more often! If for nothing else, so I can remember what the heck happened throughout the blur of each passing year.

Um.. is it REALLY for ME?

April: I remember April without even having to look at the archives. April was the month that I discovered Thing #1. While having Thing #1 investigated, the docs found Thing #2. April was the month my poor poked, prodded, dyed, cut open, accessorized, and even burned boobies will never forget! April was pretty much all about my boobs. How fun! Except, not. April was also intense for other reasons (court hearings related to Lil Miss H’s adoption) that was supposed to but didn’t happen and a crap load of phone calls and drama related to that.

May: This was the month we bought our Suburban and spent the first of THREE weekends at Cathy’s house. How cool is it that we got to go to Trout Lake three times this year? And technically we went for a few hours one other time and to BZ on Christmas Eve too. That’s five trips east of Hood River this year to see Cathy and family. Maybe we can shoot for even more in 2010?? My mom also took me to see the American Idols live in concert which was pretty fun. I also remember complaining a lot about medical bills this month.

Ooooh. Aaaaah.

June: Ahhh June. How could I forget E. Coli June? June was the month I gorged myself on ate a little too much cookie dough and will never forget it. (Remember the whole cookie dough recall thing?) Technically I don’t know for sure that I got E. Coli but I know I got damn sick and that’s just too much coincidence. I rarely even eat cookie dough. Kat turned 18 and got her GED. I went with Lil Miss’ kindergarten class to the Oregon Zoo and I got a lot of laundry done.

July: was memorable for the record breaking heat. 108 degrees was just way too freakin’ hot! It was the month we camped downstairs by air conditioners, and spent money we didn’t have to buy more air conditioners. Oi. We had our annual Fourth of July party and had a blast! Casey turned 11. I also did a lot of laundry.

It was like a snuggie party!

August: Jack and I celebrated our 15th year together and our 10th wedding anniversary in gorgeous Seaside, Oregon; the same place we honeymooned. Someone ran over our mailbox kiosk, we spend insane amounts of money we didn’t have on school supplies and clothes for the kids, and I did a lot of laundry. I’m sensing a theme here.

September: was all about Pearl Jam! Well, not JUST about Pearl Jam but it was definitely one of the highlights of our year (along with our anniversary). Jack turned almost 40 (muhahahaha) and we spent Labor Day weekend at Cathy’s in Trout Lake and had a blast. The kids started back to school.

Thumbs up!

October: Miss H’s adoption was finally finalized! Jack’s Godzilla got an upgrade, and of course there was Halloween.

November: Kayla turned 20 (*gulp*), Jackie turned 15, and Kevin performed a solo in choir. We spent Thanksgiving weekend with almost all the family at Jack’s grandmother’s.

Another thumbs up!

December: Much holiday and birthday madness ensued. Kevin turned 18, Melissa turned 14, and Lil Miss turned 7. We adopted Mia, our little Rat Terrier from the Oregon Humane society who rescued her from an overwhelmed breeder in Tillamook, Oregon. She was quite sick and the first week with her was a blur of sickness, vets, and crap loads of money we did not have flying out our window to get her better (in addition to all the Christmas and Birthday shopping…) Hopefully the insurance she came with will come through and cover most of it! We spent Christmas eve at Jack’s Grandma’s and paid Sarah and her family a visit. The day after Christmas we drove up to Cathy’s and spent the night so we could visit and fix her door. New Year’s eve was spent quietly at home with family. It was a good end to a great year.

What IS it?

2009 had its ups and downs for certain. I look back on the year and feel lucky and very thankful that mostly there were ups. We are certainly blessed.

Happy New Year!

Exercise and weight loss

Remember this rant? Exercise only affects 5% of weight loss… WTF?

Ever since then, I keep hearing that this may actually be true: Exercise has a lot less of an affect on weight loss than previously thought. I had such a hard time wrapping my brain around that concept, but more and more articles are saying so and it’s starting to make a little bit of sense to me.

I know many who have lost weight with the “eat less move more” mindset as posted in this article, “Exercise? A fat lot of good that is for weight loss”. I’ve lost weight with this mindset. But everyone I know who’s gone this route has gained most, if not all of it, back. I lost 50 lbs! But I gained 15 back, then lost five again and am currently plateaued and have been for two years.

Here’s a quote from The Times article where The Mayo Clinic concluded, from recent research, that:

Most studies have demonstrated no or modest weight loss with exercise alone … patients should have realistic expectations, an exercise regimen … is unlikely to result in short-term weight loss beyond what is achieved with dietary change.

So I guess instead of looking for a gym membership, I should be consulting with a dietitian? 🙂

Want a side of E. Coli with that?

If you follow me on Twitter, you likely saw this update:

Pretty sure I just got over a touch of food poisoning. Blech. Feeling a bit better now. #fb8:15 PM Jun 3rd from TwitterFon

Then I posted the next Friday about it:

Wednesday I got some sort of food poisoning or a strange 8 hour bug or something. Around 1 PM or so, I started feeling like crap, continued to feel like crap while spending lots of time in the bathroom until about 8 PM. Then I miraculously felt better and ate some soup. I’m leaning toward food poisoning.

Then I hear about this: Toll House cookie dough recalled, linked to E. coli

Guess what I was nibbling on the prior Tuesday night and Wednesday morning?
If you guessed Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough… you’re 100% accurate. Jack and Sissa bought a tub of it the day before and we had a few nibbles off it before cookies were baked that night. Wednesday morning I ate a spoonful right out of the tub. As a diabetic I know that’s a no-no but it was only a spoonful. Or maybe it was two? I love chocolate chip cookie dough.

But really? E. Coli?? Did I get a touch of E. Coli? I was sick for about 8 hours… Can someone even get a “touch” of something like that? I was the only one who got sick… and it didn’t last days like many with E. Coli symptoms do.. but still. That’s a weird coincidence.

New Graduates

Here’s a quick update on the new happenings in our crazy household. This week flew by in a whirlwind of activity:

Jack had surgery on Tuesday to correct the issue with the gland in his neck. That went very smoothly and fairly quickly despite the surgery taking a bit longer than anticipated due to scar tissue build up from his surgery 11 years ago. Basically it was the polar opposite of my recent surgery experience.

Thursday was the last day of school for my kiddos. Their first day of summer was stormy and a bit wild weather-wise. There were even warnings of cold core funnels. (I’d never heard of those before) but fortunately we didn’t see anything like that and our patio furniture survived the weather this time.

And to top if off Kat turned 18 and we went to two graduation ceremonies. Casey graduated elementary school and will be in Junior High School next year. Katherine graduated high school. Here’s our new graduates:

Casey, Katherine, Graduation 005

Casey, Katherine, Graduation 031

Congratulations to Mo, and Kat!

More Medical and Health Woes

As if my little medical issues lately weren’t enough, there’s more!

Those of you who know us in the real world (as opposed to the cyber world) know that Jack’s goatee has gotten him into trouble a time or two in his life.

Almost 11 years ago (1998, about a month before Casey was born) he was chewing on a whisker from his beard / goatee (’cause he’s weird like that) and the whisker broke, flew into his mouth, burrowed under his tongue, and proceeded to cause a massive infection behind and below the base of his tongue that could have killed him.

He was sick for several weeks and had doctors confused as to what was wrong with him. We went back and forth to various doctors several times in a five week period who would only prescribe antibiotics then send him home. He’d get a little better from the antiobitics but as soon as they ran out he’d be sick again. Jack eventually ending up in the ER when he became delirious with a 104 temperature and his throat was almost swollen shut. I threw a small fit demanding someone do *something* and refused to leave till we had an answer. We were finally referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist.

He too almost sent us away not knowing what was wrong. None of the doctors could see or even feel the infection because it was lodged so far back under his tongue and moving inward, almost under his jaw. The specialist finally found the abscess and was quite shocked at how bad it was. He sent us to the hospital right away and did an emergency surgery to fix it. Jack was in the hospital for almost five days after. It was a major ordeal and left him with an almost 3 inch scar on his neck.

The reason it could have killed him is the infection was close to the vein (artery?) that goes from your tongue down to your heart. If the infection had gotten in that vein, he wouldn’t have made it.

Fast forward to today, he still has some issues with the area, usually in the form of a clogged salivary gland under his tongue from time to time. It’s always cleared up on its own, but this time it didn’t and he started getting swollen in the same area as his scar.

He has another infection that we now know needs attention asap. He had it looked at Monday and today he had a quick little surgery to extract the infection. He’s being referred to another ear, nose, throat specialist because he shouldn’t be having these problems. The oral surgeon’s theory is the infection/surgery from 11 years ago may have disturbed the way his salivary glands are functioning and the area will need to be revisited with another surgery and possibly a correction.

Do we have some crazy shit happen to us or WHAT?? Actually, Jack has the crazy stuff happen to him. He’s the one who can’t be normal. (And anyone who knows him knows this to be 100% accurate!) He can’t just break a leg or something. Oh no. He has to go and almost kill himself because he happened to chew on his whiskers. Do normal guys even do that? He seems to think so. I think Jack’s just… weird. 😉

Our medical bills this year are going to really REALLY suck. At least we’re doing our part in helping the medical field stay in business. 😕

Exercise only affects 5% of weight loss… WTF?

First, the good news.

I got my pathology results today and there was no atypia or malignancy identified in the tissue that was removed. So that’s a huge huge HUGE relief. My incision is healing fine and everything there looks good. The THINGS are truly NO MORE! I go back in six weeks for another check. After that I’ve been instructed to be checked every six months, with every other checkup being a mammogram. They want to keep a close eye on me.

The other news isn’t bad. But it’s weird and I need your opinions, thoughts, etc. But first I have to back up a bit.

Wednesday last week I woke up with a sore throat and a headache. It wasn’t horrible, just annoying. Then the morning of my surgery I woke up in a coughing fit. It subsided by the time I got to the hospital but I let them know anyway. They weren’t concerned after listening to my lungs and finding them clear. I was pretty much fine till Sunday when I started coughing again. I proceeded to cough during the night, and had several coughing fits Monday. My throat has been hurting off an on all week as well.

No one else is sick in my family. No sore throats. No sniffles. I don’t even have a sniffle. Just this weird and annoying cough and the occasional sore throat.

I mentioned the cough to Dr. S (the one who did my surgery) at my post-op appointment today. He said if it persists I should see my regular doctor. I then asked him about Dr. D. (the one who was supposed to do my surgery but got sick and canceled). It turns out Dr. D got really ill with a cough. It was so bad she had to be hospitalized (she’s pregnant) and put on medication. I just saw Dr. D the week before and now *I* have a cough. Interesting.

I asked Dr. S if he knew if Dr. D’s cough was viral or not. He wasn’t sure. Then he caught on to why I was asking, so he joked and said, “Who got who sick? “Maybe YOU got HER sick?!” Who knows? Who cares? I was just asking out of curiosity since that is a coincidence and it’d be nice to know if she had a virus that was contagious. (No I haven’t been to Mexico.)

But that’s not the weird part.

While I’m still talking to him about this cough he cuts me off and asked if my regular doctor is working with me on my weight. This was completely random and out of the blue. I stammered a bit and eventually said no, but I starting a walking routine recently and…

He cut me off again and said “walking won’t help”.

Jack and I both gaped at him.

I replied, “it’s not just walking, it’s a full cardio workout.”

Dr S. replied with a wave of his hand, “exercise doesn’t do anything. It only affects maybe 5% of weight loss”.

Again Jack and I gaped. Only 5%? WTF is he talking about? This is a DOCTOR and he’s telling me that exercise isn’t going to help me lose weight? So I asked him if he meant I needed a diet change.

He was pretty vague in his answer. He said that people rarely lose weight on their own and usually need some sort of program. He said I should talk to my regular doctor about it.

It’s bugged me all day. And I can certainly understand now why my sister didn’t like this doctor.

How can a doctor who claims to have 26 years of experience say exercise won’t help me lose weight? I’ve tried to wrap my brain around it and I can’t. It could be that he means that exercise will help me lose weight, but unless I exercise forever it won’t stay off? I know it’s hard to keep the weight off and maintain. I know this quite well as I’m a yo-yo when it comes to my weight…

Or maybe he was trying to tell me that he thinks I overeat and no amount of exercise would help me? Maybe he’s one of those kind of people who just assumes all overweight people sit on their ass all day and eat as much as they can stuff in their mouths? Or maybe since he’s a surgeon, he was hinting at some sort gastric bypass surgery or something?

He then went on to tell me that with the history in my family, losing weight is something I should really think about as breasts don’t like fat. (I thought breasts were primarily fatty tissue, but HE’s the doctor…). He pretty much was all about talking about my weight after that.

Jack and I were so shocked that we didn’t really get to ask any questions about the surgery, including the most important one: why did I have these clogged ducts and masses in there. I know the answer would have likely been, “who knows with these things” but I still would have liked the chance to ask. Instead I felt like I was being accused of something and felt a little offended. I really wanted to tell him that my sister was not overweight and she got breast cancer, asshole.

So what do you guys think? Especially about this exercise thing? Were we justified in being shocked at what he was saying? Do I have a right to feel slightly offended? Or are we completely missing something (besides that we both know I’m overweight)?

The thing that is no more… hopefully

The surgery to remove THING #1 was Thursday (April 23rd) and how it went is best summed up by Jay:

@SpacyTracie wow, quite the interesting turn of events there for you … who knew surgery could be such a rollercoaster ride?

I arrived at the hospital right on time, filled out the paperwork, and was called back fairly promptly. I had to go in alone initially while the nurse, who coincidentally shared my first and last name, checked my vital signs, asked questions, etc. I told her about my experience with the tape they used on the biopsy last week on THING #2 (I still had a bit of a rash from it), so she put an allergy band on my wrist indicating I was allergic. (Paper tape is OK.) The IV was started (ouch!) then Jack was allowed to come in and sit with me.

A few minutes later my hand where the IV was inserted started to burn and feel itchy. I asked my namesake nurse if that was normal. She kinda shrugged then I started itching my hand around the IV. She told me not to do that as I wouldn’t want the IV to come out and I said I couldn’t help it. It itched BAD. We both realized at the same time it was the tape she used to secure the IV. We were so busy chatting about having the same names when she inserted the IV that we forgot about the tape allergy thing. She quickly took off the tape and secured the IV with one of those ace bandage type things that sticks to itself. Whew.

I was scheduled for “Wire and Dye” at 8:45 AM. The wire is basically a marker to where the lump or growth is to be removed. The wire has a hook on the end of it to keep it in place. They use ultrasound to get the wire placed exactly where it needs to be, then inject a dye in the area around the wire where they want the tissue to be removed. The wire is removed during the surgery.

They came and got me for this procedure around 8:30 AM. Jack and my mother followed as I was wheeled over in a wheelchair to the Breast Care Center. They were instructed to stay in the waiting room while I was taken inside. When we got to the nurses station, they said we were early and they weren’t ready for me. The nurse who wheeled me over explained she was filling in for someone and that’s why she brought me early. They had no rooms available so they parked me in a hallway out of the way and left me there alone.

There I sat in my wheelchair, wearing nothing but a hospital gown, a blanket, an IV, and my iPhone. I twittered about it saying I felt conspicuous sitting there all alone. People would come and go from the doors in that hallway and when they’d see me they seemed surprised I was there. It was awkward.

A doctor-type woman who appeared to have just arrived to the facility carrying her coat and some files walked by, then stopped, and asked if I was comfortable. I replied that I was physically fine but felt a little out of place. She gave me a knowing nod and a smile and asked if I had family or friends in the waiting room. I explained I did and she said she’d go get them and some chairs and they could sit with me. A minute later she returned with my mom and Jack and a couple nurses carrying chairs. What a sweet lady! I still have no idea who she was but that was awesome. Unfortunately it was a little late because only a few minutes later a nurse showed up to get me. At least Jack and my mom were allowed to stay with me during the procedure.

Soon I was on the table and the procedure to insert the wire and dye was about to begin. Just as the radiologist was prepping the site, I heard a noise and saw a flash coming from where my mom and Jack were sitting. The nurse and I both glared at Jack and I started to say, “Oh no you don’t!”. I thought he had just snapped a photo. So did the nurse. But the flashes and noises kept repeating and that’s when we all realized it was the fire alarm going off. The nurse sighed and said the stupid alarms go off all the time and she hoped it’d be turned off soon because the strobe effect (flashing) was annoying. The radiologist agreed but continued his prep work.

As he was about to numb the area there was knock at the door as it opened and a woman’s voice telling us the alarm wasn’t a drill and the building was being evacuated. My nurse and radiologist said they had just got started. The curly-headed woman at the door said that was fine but my mom and Jack had to leave. I was like, “wait, what? There’s a fire and we’re going to stay? REALLY??” I looked at the nurse and radiologist’s faces and they only seemed annoyed, not worried so I just kept my mouth shut.

The procedure was started and I could tell they were moving quicker than normal. Fortunately I wasn’t feeling a thing so I just hoped they wouldn’t miss in their haste. I was also anxious about whatever was going on outside that room that was making the fire alarm go off and people get evacuated. The alarm continued to flash and beep, but only a few minutes later Jack and my mom came back and said it was nothing. Yay!

I relaxed. The procedure was almost over anyway. Now we were all just hoping they’d shut the alarm off. A few minutes later there was another knock on the door and the curly-headed woman’s voice returned saying “Sorry, the fire department is here and they want the building evacuated”. She escorted my mom and Jack out of the room AGAIN then came back a few minutes later saying the facility was now empty and it was just us and we needed to go.

The nurse and radiologist quickly finished and helped me back to the wheelchair. My head was spinning.

The curly-headed woman wheeled me out and as we were going down the hall I felt some intense burning then the serious need to take sandpaper to my boob where they just did the procedure. I mentioned this to her and she said the dye can cause discomfort. I said no, this is on the outside. It itches bad and it feels like I’m being burned. Then I realized they must have put tape on me. I looked down and pulled away the gauze and sure enough, there was surgical tape holding down some more gauze and a wire about 6 inches long hanging out of me. (FREAKY!) The nurse was walking with us and got an alarmed look on her face and said in their haste they forgot about my tape allergy. She apologized and took off in search of paper tape.

At this point people started trickling back into the building.. and there I am in the hall, boob exposed with a wire hanging out of it… me and the curly-headed woman ripping tape off it. To think I had the nerve to feel conspicuous in the hall earlier. Ha!

I joked about how it must have been me setting off the fire alarm because that was TWICE in a short period of time someone put tape on me that felt just like I was being set on fire. There was no fire though. Just steam from a boiler room. All that excitement for just a little steam.

I relaxed again. The burning and itching had subsided and no one was catching on fire. Jack and my mom were instructed again to wait in the waiting room while I went and had mammogram pictures taken to ensure the wire was placed properly. Everything was back to normal and even the alarm had stopped. The relief I felt was short-lived.

A nurse from pre-op arrived at the nurses station looking for me. The nurses pointed me out and she approached me gently, hands clasped behind her back, with a concerned look on her face. She bent over toward me and said my surgeon became ill and/or there was some sort of emergency with her. I asked if she was OK. My surgeon is pregnant so I was immediately concerned for her. The pre-op nurse said they had no information on what was going on with her but it did mean that all her surgery patients were canceled for the day. I stared at her.

The wire and dye nurse told the pre-op nurse that I just had the wire put in and was about to get a quick mammogram. Pre-op nurse said to put everything on hold while she made some calls. I asked what this all meant for me. Curly-head said she wasn’t sure. The wires aren’t meant to come out the way they went in because of the hook. She explained they have taken them out before but it was not something they like to do. She also said they could put a clip in it and secure it real good and I could come back tomorrow but I would be very restricted on movement of that arm.

Curly-head stayed with me while we waited for the pre-op nurse to come back. I have no idea who curly-head was. She seemed to be some sort of head of the department. She was very friendly and comforting and I was grateful she stayed with me so I didn’t have to go back to sitting in the hallway alone. Pre-op nurse came back and said they found a backup surgeon. I asked if I would get to meet him at least before the surgery. They said yes and that I would really like him. He was supposedly a kind and gentle older man close to retirement, and has been a surgeon for many many years. They all seemed to adore him so I was OK with it… Mostly. The biggest hitch was he wasn’t going to be available until three hours after my original surgery was scheduled.

The mammogram was quick and painless and soon as I was back in pre-op. Pre-op is just a big room with a bunch of beds lined up with curtains separating the beds. It’s noisy and the space around each bed is very small. Technically only one relative / friend is allowed at a time to sit with the patients. My mom and Jack followed me back to pre-op and no one said they had to leave. At that point it seemed the staff were bending over backwards to make sure I was comfortable and happy after the crazy morning I had.

My mom had to leave to take care of some obligations. I had a long Care Package from Jackwait ahead of me and there was no reason for all of us to sit there in that tiny space bored out of our minds. I sat on the bed flipping through a magazine and the care package Jack had put together for me in a bright pink mini backpack. (The care package  contained the magazine, new pink Breast Cancer Research Foundation coffee cup and water bottle, a new brush with new hair ties, a words earch puzzle book, chocolates for later, a beanie Panda Bear named Ming, some mints, and some lip balm. Isn’t Jack a sweetie?) Unfortunately the package only side-tracked me for about 20 minutes. I ended up fretting over the whole ordeal, and managed to work myself up into tears. Jack got a nurse and we asked if we could leave. There was no way I wanted us to sit there for several hours. The nurses said they normally never let anyone leave pre-op once admitted but in my case, after all I’d been through, they’d allow it as long as they could reach us on our cell phones, I stayed in my wheelchair, and didn’t move the arm on the side the wire was. We agreed. FREEDOM.

From there Jack wheeled me around the hospital for a while. We went outside for a bit. It was too cold so we went and got Jack some lunch. I drooled. No food or water for me since the night before. (Can you say, “Caffiene Headache”??) Just the IV fluids… Eventually we went back up to pre-op to see if there was any new news. There wasn’t so we went down into the lobby at the Firstenburg Tower and set up ‘camp’ near the gas fireplace and near a good view of the fountain to watch a movie on Jack’s laptop. Just as he was loading up the list of our movie choices, I got a call from pre-op. The backup surgeon was called into a trauma… GRRRRR! But then she said another surgeon was going to do my surgery on his lunch break, RIGHT NOW.

We hurried back to pre-op to find two nurses and the anesthesiologist waiting for me at my bed. The surgeon had gone to eat a half a bowl of soup real quick. I wasn’t thrilled about the surgeon I was getting because it was the same one my sister had for her masectomies and she didn’t like him. I wasn’t sure why though. He seemed OK when I met him, he’s just a no-nonsense type of person. Not that we had a whole lot of time to get to know each other. Everyone seemed in a hurry and he was mostly concerned with confirming the details of the surgery, why I was there, etc. The haste in which all this happened did not do much to easy my anxiety about the whole day, but at least things were going so fast at that point I didn’t really have time to fret much.

They rolled me into the operating room and asked me a few questions. I answered and was waiting for an opportunity to let the anesthesiologist know that I prefer to be told I’m being put under rather than just have them knock me out without warning. (I wake up less disoriented that way.) Unfortunately the next thing I remember is being woke up, feeling pain in my breast, fading back out, waking up, feeling pain, fading out, then waking up again. If there is a next time, I will be sure to ignore any questions until I get a chance to tell them to let me know before they just knock me out.

I recovered pretty quick and headed home about an hour or so after the surgery. They did NOT use tape thankfully. Just some gauze over the incision and this tube top looking thing around my whole chest that velcros closed in the front.

I have a 1.5 inch incision above the nipple. They removed a cluster of clogged ducts along with whatever the lump was. The incision is bigger than I expected and the doc says I may lose some feeling in the area. I have already discovered that there’s definitely a loss of sensation in two places and I really hope it’s temporary. There’s been some pain but the painkillers take care of that for the most part. Unfortunately they also completely wipe me out and make me stupid.

I’m just taking it easy for now until Wednesday when I have my follow up appointment.