Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Kelly's Surgery 6/6/17

Updates! (TMI probably for some) Sorry about that, but I want to share what I've been going through! I know that some of my friends and family have gone these things too, and for me it's nice to not feel alone in it. I'd love comments or private messages about your experiences particularly with endometriosis if you feel comfortable sharing with me!

I finally got in to see an endodontist on Monday. He confirmed that I do need a root canal, and I am scheduled to have that done after my surgery recovery. I will be happy to have that out of the way! Apparently the reason it's been so painful is that the abscess was down at the bottom of a root and putting pressure on my lower jaw bone, No pain right now because the antibiotic temporarily took down the infection and inflammation. That should hold for a few weeks until my appointment! Sensodyne toothpaste is doing a great job managing the sensitivity, so that's fantastic for me!

I had very severe abdominal pain beginning in December 2016 and reoccurring in 2017. Even before the pain started, I had already been having struggles with fatigue and other symptoms that were affecting my quality of life and ability to do things that are important to me like working, housework, running, etc. Sometimes I would be fine, but other times I was unable to do much for up to 1-2 weeks at a time, and some days struggled with just trying to get in the car to take Jana to school. I tried several medications that either had unmanageable side effects and/or didn't help. I also tried a low glycemic-index diet and a high protein diet. The low glycemic-index diet was not a good fit for me, but I did feel good when I just made sure to eat some protein every time I ate anything else.  I've cut out caffeine almost completely from my diet (for years now), and I exercise every day that I am physically able to.
When the pain happened, it was significant enough for me to get an MRI and then ultrasounds every 3-6 weeks. What was originally thought to be hemorrhagic cysts in my pelvic region began to be considered a "mass" that was actively and quickly growing. A specialist in April recommended surgery, which was an upsetting and alarming idea to me. I went in for a second opinion in May, and the second surgeon recommended immediate surgery (within a week). He also gave me the option to have the surgery done by an oncologist obgyn because the type and nature of the mass had not yet been able to be identified. I picked the obgyn who had done my c-section because I had been so pleased with the minimal scarring from his work and how much we had just generally liked him. He let me know that there was a chance both of my ovaries might have to be removed and a small chance of a full hysterectomy.
My surgery was this morning  (Tuesday 6-6-17) at 9am at PVH. Several really good things came out of the surgery. First, I got a diagnosis of endometriosis. It's bad in a way, because it's severe, stage 4 with significant scar tissue throughout my pelvis, it's not curable, and almost certain to return. However it's also good news because at least now we know what we are dealing with and what was causing the pain! Also good, because it's very likely completely benign and there's a good chance it can be managed in one way or another. I know other people who have endometriosis and live very happy lives!

Unfortunately, my doc said that this surgery will probably not help my fatigue or other symptoms (it should help with pain in the short term). I'd love to hear how others with endometriosis have managed fatigue and other symptoms!

I was pretty nervous and upset going in today. I cried all the way into the operating room and until I was under anesthesia! (Probably largely due to hormones, but also because I've been going through a heck of a lot, and I'm just tired. I also didn't sleep well last night.) The surgery was laparoscopic and outpatient. I was home by around 2pm I think. In the surgery they removed my right ovary and fallopian tube (salpingo oophorectomy) along with the larger mass which turned out to be an endometrioma.They were able to save my left ovary fortunately by removing smaller endometriomas that were attached to it. They also removed a large amount of thick scar tissue (caused by endometriosis) throughout my pelvic cavity. They also did a hysteroscopy (camera in the uterus) to look at a polyp, and they performed a D&C to remove that. My obgyn was also kind enough to remove a mole from my tummy that I'd been previously instructed to get removed (by my regular doc). So all together I got 5 incisions today! They were all small enough to be glued rather than stitched. They have really amazing laporoscopic techniques now! Fortunately I did not have any plans to wear a bikini this summer, and I don't think I'm quite ready to display my new look. Maybe that can be a goal for next summer!
Everything was sent for biopsy, and my doctor was not concerned that anything would come back with a negative report. I'm home resting. I feel exhausted and very weak, but in good spirits! I'm enjoying flowers, chocolates, balloons, popsicles, ice packs, and Percocet. My pain level is low at the moment. I am feeling loved and well cared for. I have a huge stack of books and several shows I plan to watch. I also plan to continue homeschooling from my bed. I can get out of bed and walk to the bathroom by myself (very slowly). I have requested 2 weeks off work, and my mom is here this week to spend quality time with all of us (thought the kids seem to have dibs). Matt sets his own work schedule during summer break, so the timing couldn't be any better. I will be alone for a few days next week, but I have had offers from local friends and family to help me during that time. Our homeschool community has also reached out to me with offers of help. I am so thankful to feel like I have a support network, and I do not take this for granted. Often when I have seen my friends and family struggling I have wanted to help, but haven't felt like I've known how I could help. So, a challenge I have given myself is to ask for specific help when I need it. Thank you for being a part of my support network, and I hope I can be a part of yours!

Update: 6-7-17
I woke up in a lot of pain today because I slept so well last night that I accidentally missed a pain pill and the Percocet wore off. It hurts to breathe or move today and unfortunately my shoulders are hurting very badly. My sister had this after her surgery too, and she told me what causes it. Apparently for laparoscopic surgery they have to fill up the abdominal cavity with gas so they have enough room to work. They remove the gas after, but not all of it. So the remaining gas sometimes floats up and lands in the shoulders which I think is what I have going on. It hurts even worse than the abdominal pain and pain from breathing.

I'm discouraged today because I hate being stuck in bed. I've been frustrated a few times because I needed something and no one was in my room to help me. I'm frustrated because I feel like I should be able to take care of myself, and I can't. Also the level of the pain in my shoulders is wearing me down very quickly. :(

I'd love to hear from people who have found ways to manage pain other than going crazy from it!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Peach Tree

Peach ripening on my peach tree!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Kayaking Horsetooth Reservoir

First Leg of Horsetooth Reservoir
Distance: 1.25 miles
Short kayaking! We were slow because we had Jana along with us. We had a fun day.

Second Leg of Horsetooth Resrvoir

Last night Michael and I did our second leg of kayaking the perimeter of Horsetooth Reservoir. We did between 6 and 7 miles in total. We started at the East Swim Beach and paddled to the West Swim Beach. It took just under 3 hours. I was loving it, but Michael's kayak doesn't have a back rest so he suffered some. He also was wearing his life jacket and wound up with chaffing around his shoulders and a huge blister from chaffing on his hip. Additionally, Michael has a swollen left hand from being stung by a wasp 3 days ago. He didn't complain about that, but it had to make paddling uncomfortable.

The wind was a major factor in our experience. It was wild! So the water was also quite choppy. I only got my camera out in moments when the wind and water had died down because I didn't want to lose it in the reservoir. That also means I didn't get any great photos of the turbulent water we were paddling in. We chose our route based in part on the wind. We headed south from the swim beach in order to have the wind partly at our back. The wind was coming from the NW. It did help move us along.

I was using Michael's cool waterproof floating phone case. It's fantastic! It kept my phone completely safe, and I tethered it to my kayak. I will post a map of our route later.

Third Leg of Horsetooth reservoir
Distance: 2.5 miles
This was the East Swim Beach to Satanka Cove. We got out on the North end of the Reservoir. I think this took us 1 hour to 1.5 hours. It was a beautiful day, and I enjoyed it a lot. Satanka Cove was full of happy boaters, paddle boarders, kayakers, cliff jumpers, etc!

Fourth Leg of Horsetooth Reservoir
distance: 3.5 miles
We went from the South West corner of the reservoir down to Eltuck Bay. We did all of the little coves and inlets in the bay and then went across the reservoir to the south swim beach. What do I have to say about this leg? We went from 6-8pm. The wind was against us. It was extremely challenging. There were a lot of boaters, not too many kayakers. Eltuck Bay was like one giant party of happy boaters. Lots of music, sunshine, laughter, etc. When we paddled back out of the cove, the sun disappeared and there were grumpy fisherman not too happy to have kayakers anywhere near them. There were some happy fisherman too! It was especially hard to paddle across the reservoir. It was a little scary because of all of the boaters plus us being so small, paddling hard but slow against the wind, it was getting dark out, and I was extremely happy when we finally reached the swim beach. Michael had an extra challenge today because he had a skateboarding accident a few days ago and still had an injured elbow. Not the most pleasant trip for us, but we did it!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Goal: Larimer County Passport Program

Another goal we started as part of homeschool and just general awesomeness is the Larimer County Passport Program. We picked up some "passports" from the county which give instructions for taking certain hikes around the area. At each of these hikes there is a post with a plaque. You use a crayon or pencil to make a rubbing of the plaque onto your passport to prove you actually went there. Once you have completed all the hikes, you turn in the completed passport to receive prizes and be entered into drawings for grand prizes. We each already have 4 of the 16 stamps in our passport. We can probably finish them in the next week or so. The ones we have done are:

Audra Culver: Part of Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. Audra Culver is an alternative route to Horsetooth Rock. It's really pretty, and I can't believe I've never previously hiked that trail. Certainly less crowded than the Horsetooth Rock trail.

Soderberg: This one was only abut 100 feet up the trail. Nice and easy to get the stamp on our way past.

Fossil Creek Reservoir: I've been to Fossil Creek Park before, but I guess I didn't even realize Fossil Creek Reservoir existed. It's a really beautiful area FULL of birds and other wildlife. We saw two snakes... TWO! We were only there about 30 minutes and nearly stepped on a 2.5 foot bull snake followed by a Gray Racer. The bull snake startled me and caused me to take a big twirling leap. I thought for sure I was about to be a snack for a rattler. So happy to find upon further examination that it was just a cute little bull snake. We took two different trails at the reservoir where we got two different stamps. One was a little farther than the other, but neither very difficult. It was a hot day though and there was a very "snakey" feeling in the air that made us feel happy to see the snakes, but also happy to be getting back in the car.

Looking forward to finishing the passport!

Next Goal: Kayaking Perimeter of Horsetooth Reservoir 25 Miles

Now that our hiking goals are completed, we have begun one of our next homeschool goals! Michael and I have decided we will kayak the perimeter of Horsetooth Reservoir (about 25 miles of perimeter). Today we did the first bit of it, and we brought Matt and Jana along. We rented a stand up paddle board for Matt. Jana rode along with each of us at her leisure. We began at South Bay near the West swim beach and circled around to the south to complete the far south end. Our next goal will be to go from the west swim beach across to the Spring Canyon Dam and Inlet Bay, then to Dixon Canyon Dam, Quarry Cove, and Dixon Cove, then Soldier Canyon Dam, Soldier Canyon Cove, Eltuck Bay, and Orchard Cove, and finally Horsetooth Dam and Satanka Cove. I think we can complete it in a total of 5 outings or less while still relaxing and enjoying ourselves.

I didn't want to bring a camera along, so these are just pictures from the shore playing around.

My dear friend DeAnna

My dear friend DeAnna has moved to Denver. This is her with Jana on her last day at work with me. She and Jana decorated the nursery and themselves with streamers.

Fishing for Bass

Some fishing. This is the first fish Michael ever caught with a lure instead of bait. Caught at Rolland Moore Park. He used a mosquito lure and caught quite a few! He went back several days in a row and had continued good luck. I tried, but did not catch anything. He said my technique is improving.

Horsetooth Mountain Open Space Completed

We completed our goal of hiking every trail at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space. We were rewarded with a close up view of a golden eagle on our way down the mountain! What a great hike. Sorry I didn't take more pics of the hike. It was a bit remote, and we did about 8.5 miles on the final hike. We are better hikers than we have ever been and so in love with the beauty of nature!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Towers Trail- Horsetooth Mountain Open Space

This is the Towers Trail hike. After this one, we only have two hikes left in Horsetooth Mountain Open Space! This one was 7.5 miles roundtrip and took us 3 hours and 15 minutes. We are really getting fast. How was the hike? Lots of elevation. I think it was close to 1400 feet climb in about 3 miles. Wow, we are good hikers and we don't quit, but we also quit after 1 mile on this one. Michael sat down and said he couldn't do it. He had been carrying our backpack and all the water, so I took that and then he was back to running circles around me. The trail is wide, it is just steep most of the way to the top.

HA! All the pictures I took show a perfectly flat trail, but that is because we rested every time we got to a flat spot.

Here are the towers. I think these towers are a combination of radio, cell, and emergency. But I'm not really sure! There are lots of towers up there in that spot. Maybe 10?

 Behind Michael you can see Longs Peak (14er) and the snow-capped Continental Divide.

What's this? A generator?

The area around the towers reminded Michael of an apocalypse scene. He was offended by the unkempt condition with tires and things scattered around. We saw a huge jack rabbit and some mountain bikers. Don't try this hike on a hot day, or be sure to start very early. I wished we would have started a little earlier because it did get hot (sweaty) especially on the uphill.

HillBilly AutoBody

Notice Matt is balancing his right foot on a slack line tied to? That wooden ladder is one that was left behind by the previous owner of our old condo. We've had it for 10 years now, and it has always been very wobbly. So it makes sense that Matt would want to stand like this and swing a sharp ax into the engine compartment of his truck right? Shirtless?

I'm looking forward to getting our truck running, but even more so I'm looking forward to getting Matt back! He's been so busy on the truck, that he hasn't been available to do all of the things he normally does around the house. I might be forced to sweep the kitchen floor myself today. The horror!

I am so thankful that Matt is such a capable and hard working person. He's the best!

Vegetables- Community Supported Agriculture

This year we bought a CSA share. CSA means community supported agriculture. We bought our share from Blue Barrel Farm in Fort Collins, CO. For $290 a year Blue Barrel Farm will deliver vegetables to your house (enough for a family of 4) every other week for the entire growing season (June to October).

We received our first share yesterday and were so amazed! It included: lettuce, spinach, chives, edible chive flowers, radishes including edible radish greens, arugula, kale, swiss chard, mixed greens, bok choy, and parsley. I washed and chopped everything to make it convenient to eat. I have had 4 salads since yesterday morning when the vegetables arrived, and I can't get enough! The lettuce is so tender, the radishes are so mild, and I feel so good knowing that everything I'm eating was farmed locally and organically.

At lunchtime some neighbor girls came over and wanted to try everything (even the girl who is very picky). The girls tried everything, but their favorite item was the edible flowers even though they are a little spicy.

The farm also provided us with a small bucket for compostable materials. They will pick that up along with the lettuce containers when they deliver our next share in two weeks. You don't have to be home to receive the delivery. You just put out a cooler with ice packs in the shade near your front door. Every delivery will have a new variety of vegetables based on what is ready at that time. If they bring us parsnips, I will be looking to give those to someone else as they are not my favorite.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What kind of mushroom is this?