Monday, May 11, 2015

My not so lovely lump is gone.

Sweatshirt: Datwyler Disneyland Family Reunion 2014 / Shorts: My dad / T-shirt: Target 2009 / 
Boot: Cottonwood Surgery Center / Hair: Bath to Pillow

I didn't die. I did have a minor melt-down pre-surgery when the nurse looked at me and asked, "Are you nervous?" and I started crying. But then the anesthesiologist administered some of that sweet, sweet, liquid courage and I was down for anything, including total leg amputation if necessary. I sort of remember being wheeled into the operating room and then all of the sudden I was waking up in the recovery area where Stephen was waiting. He said that the surgeon already sent a sample to pathology and the tumor was not cancer. Phew.

I spent the last week in percocet comas. That stuff does not mess around. I take one pill and I'm zonked within the hour. It's great. Not for supervising children, though, which is why I had an army of relatives taking shifts playing with Ivy and Ramona while I faded in and out of naps. I think my kids had the best week of their lives.

Things are getting somewhat back to normal now. I'm still shuffling around in the robot boot, making dressing and bathing somewhat of a challenge, and I get uncomfortable standing for too long, but the worst is definitely over, and I'm moving on with my life sans golf-ball in foot.

I finally worked up the courage to look a photo of the operation. It was gross. So gross. But also kind of remarkable. I'm amazed that there are people who spend years of their lives learning how to properly slice someone open then sew them back up again without killing them in the process. I'm so glad those people exist. I'm so glad I'm not one of them.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I was comforted by your comments. I realize it's a little silly to get so worked up over a dumb foot surgery, but I really was nervous and you really did make me feel better. You guys are the best.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

My not so lovely lumps continued

Actually it is. A nerve sheath tumor, to be precise about it. I've been assured by both the radiologist and the podiatrist that the chances of the tumor being malignant or aggressive are very small, but the diagnosis still sent me into a minor tailspin yesterday. Partly because, well, I have a tumor, and partly because it means I definitely have to have an operation. On Monday. But it's same day surgery, I've got myself a prescription for plenty of painkillers, babysitters lined up, and a good book. Oh, let's be honest. I won't read. I'll binge watch all the shows. So recovery probably won't be that bad. That won't stop me from complaining, obviously, but it could be so much worse. I can walk around within the first week, and I can run again after four. 

The good news is that I get to wear this sexy little number around town:

so my fashion blog will probably really take off. Finally.

I'm nervous about something going wrong with the anesthesia. I'm worried that the surgery will have complications. I'm scared that pathology might find scary cells. But I don't think any of those things are likely, and as annoying as all of this is going to be, at least it will be over with soon and I can bid farewell to the malformed life. Well that's not entirely true because I hit my head on the countertop yesterday and now I have a black goose egg right above my left eye and it might never go away. At least my foot will be normal. ish.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My not so lovely lumps

I had an MRI this morning. 

I've had a bump on my ankle for the last couple years. When I first noticed it, I panicked like any good hypochondriac and made an instacare appointment. The doctor at the clinic, who was at the end of his shift on a Friday night and seemed annoyed that I was there, told me it wasn't cancer, he didn't really know what it was, but I shouldn't worry about it. So I didn't worry about it. I lived with what looked like a severe cankle and waited for the bump to disappear. It never did, but I had bigger medical fish to fry (childbirth) so I kind of just ignored it. But then over the last month, while trying and failing to get back into running (see previous post), my left foot has felt just awful. And looked awful. And there's nothing like pain and vanity to finally get me in to see a specialist. 

My google research had led me to believe I was dealing with a ganglion cyst. Kind of gross, but not a big deal. I just needed to find someone who could drain it. I went to an orthopedic podiatrist. "It's been there for how long?," the resident who saw me first asked rather condescendingly. I explained the instacare diagnosis, or rather lack thereof, and tried to convey how not a big deal this whole thing was. The resident grabbed the doctor, who brought in an ultrasound machine. It was around then that things started to feel kind of big dealish. "It's so big," the doctor kept saying while examining the ultrasound monitor, but then decided I was right, it was a cyst. "TOLD YOU!" I almost yelled at the resident, proud that my self-diagnosis was so accurate. Except it wasn't. Because when the doctor started to drain my malformation, he found blood. "You're going to need and MRI and I definitely want to operate," he told me. 

Say what?

I realize there's nothing more obnoxious than someone who constantly tells you how busy they are. But listen. I'm busy. I have a little kid and a nursing baby and a job and a yard that needs a lot of attention. I don't have time for surgery, and I really don't have time for recovery. Plus, operations really freak me out. More specifically, anesthesia frightens me deeply. But so does a growth that three separate professionals have been unable to identify. The doctor was careful to assure me that the chances of this being anything really nasty are extremely slim. But just in case I'm that rare, unlucky statistical outlier, he'd like to remove the mass as soon as possible. First though, I needed the MRI, which is why I got to wear these hospital shorts today:

I guess I didn't really know what an MRI was, and kind of still don't, so I was surprised when the tech asked me to change, told me the exam would take about an hour, and instructed me to pump and dump for the next day. I wanted to ask what exactly was going to be in me that I didn't want to feed my baby, but then decided I'd rather not know. 

Anyway, it was a small MRI room with this giant, beige machine that looked like a tunnel of misery. I laid on the table and looked at the ceiling where someone, probably with good intentions, had installed panels with photos of a bright blue sky and wispy clouds. "If this thing turns out to be malignant, at least you have angelic flight through the heavens to look forward to," the panels seemed to mock. "The machine is motion sensitive, so don't move your foot," the tech said and my foot immediately started twitching. The table moved forward and the machine turned on. Have you ever heard an MRI machine? Probably not because in every movie and TV show an MRI sequence is accompanied by a haunting melody, something sad and minor, and it continues to play during the scene where the patient sits across from a doctor sitting at a mahogany desk in a white lab coat with a concerned look on his face making hand gestures at the patient who has started to cry.

In reality, the machine is loud. It yells, "Deeep. Deeep. Deeep. WAAAAAAAAAAAA. WAAAAAAAAAAAA," over and over. For an hour. You have to wear ear plugs. And all you can do is lay(lie?) and stare at the artificial sky and think. Think about not moving your foot. Did you just move your foot? You totally did. This is going to take all day if you keep twitching. STOP TWITCHING. Think about something else. Like about all those sad movies wherein patients get MRIs before imminent death. But your life is not a movie. People get MRIs all the time. They just don't write books or make films about the people who are totally fine and sometimes get weird bumps on their ankles that are removed in same-day surgery. People who are going to be just fine don't make interesting art. You're boring and you're going to be fine. 

The exam ended, and I wanted to ask the tech if she saw anything weird. But even if she did she couldn't tell me. Because if she gave me wrong information I could sue her for a week's worth of worrying or whatever my case may be. I'm married to an attorney. I get it. But I searched her face for clues that she might be hiding something. She looked normal enough. I'll see my doctor again on Thursday and he will have an official diagnosis, I guess. I'll either have surgery right away if it's something scary, or I'll have surgery a little later if it's something that can wait. The operation will be an inconvenience and a little terrifying, but it will be fine. Because I'm boring and my life is not a sad book or a dramatic movie and for that, I am glad. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

We Gonna Run This Town Tonight. Or Tomorrow. Or Next Week. We Gonna Run This Town Sometime In The Foreseeable Future. Maybe.

The worst part of getting out of shape is trying to get back into shape. I didn't run during pregnancy because I didn't feel like it. I walked for a while but then it got cold and I got big and it just wasn't worth the effort anymore. So then I had a baby, lost some lbs, and started squeezing into my pre-pregnancy clothes again. That was about six weeks ago. I'm still squeezing into my jeans and pretending my shirts fit correctly. I've kind of plateaued. Oh my gosh this is so boring. Sorry. There's a point I swear. I'll try and get to it quickly. My metabolism seems to be saying, "Um, I'm doing all I can here, but you're not making it easy with your lifestyle choices." And it has a point. I eat In-N-Out on the weekly and often count walking to the washer as exercise.

So, the way I see it, in order to get rid of these pesky pounds, I have two choices: 1. Change my eating habits. HAHAHAHAHAHA. No. 2. Get back to my old runner ways. Because giving up carbs would likely cause a giant black hole of despair from which I may never emerge, running it is.

For the past couple weeks I've been trying to get back into a fitness routine. Guys, it's hard. It's hard because I like sleeping and because my body is punishing me for the nearly year-long hiatus. Anything else you can neglect and come back to fairly easily. I can go months without writing and still remember how to construct basic sentences. I haven't practiced the violin in years but I can still do vibrato and play a scale or two. Heck, I can still even speak a little bit of Latvian if you hold a gun to my head (please don't). But running isn't like that. You skip a week and suddenly your feet are like, wait, how do we move again? And you're calves are like, why are you doing this to us, what have we ever done to you? And it's not just terrible during the run, it's terrible for days after.

I suffered through a few short treadmill session, then last Saturday went for a real, pavement pounding run. I felt good for a while. I ran to a park, then around the park, and it was about halfway around that I realized I had made a terrible mistake. And I slowed way down. The 170 year old women walking ahead of me on the trail were moving faster than I was running. Dogs gave me looks of pity as I hobbled past. I was lapped by toddlers. But I finally made it to the end of the loop, and eventually back home. The trip took about an hour, so I figured I had done about six or seven miles. I mapped it. 3. 3 miles. And by the way my body has reacted since you would think it had been 50. I'm limping. I'm sore. I'm wondering how I ever did this religiously like I used to. But I'm softer than I'd like and I just really want some french fries so I can't give up. Though I did sleep through what was supposed to be treadmill time this morning. Maybe I should look into tapeworms or something.

P.S. If you're looking for updates on my children, visit Instagram. I promise you'll get your fill. And then some. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015


I've never done drugs. And not just for moral reasons. I've also never had the chance. Every year at the big important elementary school assembly I was taught, JUST SAY NO, and I anxiously awaited the day when I could turn my nose up at a marijuana cigarette ("What are marijuana tablets?"), and say, "No way, man! Drugs are for slugs!" or whatever clever rhyme I came up with at the time. But that day never arrived. Not in the scary halls of middle school, not in the corners of high school after class, and not at a single college party. No one ever offered me so much as a Tylenol. I guess I just don't look like the kind of girl who likes to party? Should I be offended? I wouldn't even know where to get drugs if I wanted to. Maybe I could try Pioneer Park? But then what? Do I just walk up to the nearest shady looking character and say, "Hello Sir/Madame, I would like to purchase some illegal narcotics, please." I don't know much about the streets, but I kind of feel like that's not how the drug trade works. At this point It would really take a considerable amount of research and effort for me to get my hands on some killa dilla or whatever the kids are calling it these days. But I'm not really interested. Because despite how good any substance might make me feel, there's no way it could come close to the overwhelming bliss I feel when my baby smiles at me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Our house in the middle of the street

I don't know what closing costs are. I've had three different people explain it to me and I've googled it multiple times, but I still have no idea what they are. Same goes for mortgage insurance. And PPI. And APR. I really should know what all those letters mean because we just bought a house.

Every time our lender or realtor started talking numbers my eyes would glaze over and I'd start daydreaming about lunch. And then when I'd come to again I'd have to ask them to repeat what they just said, and the cycle would start over until I became Michael Scott asking Oscar to explain a budget surplus. But despite my complete lack of mathematical comprehension, we managed to buy a house.

I bet house hunting is really fun if you have lots and lots of money. Then you can say things like, "Is that fountain in the foyer made from French marble? We were really looking for an Italian marble fountain." But when you don't have lots and lots of money house hunting isn't that fun and you say things like, "Excuse me, that two bedroom, split-level home with the peeling Chicago Bears wallpaper is how much?". We quickly realized that there was a real discrepancy between the house we wanted and the house we could afford. We spent, like, twenty seven Saturdays in our realtor's car, driving all over Salt Lake City looking at homes, and each house felt like a treasure hunt. Except the treasure was whatever abnormality made the house within our price range, and most often, unlivable. Usually it was the "basement" that Stephen couldn't stand up in without hitting his head on the ceiling. Sometimes it was lack of central air. Sometimes, I'm not kidding, it was a house listed as a three bedroom with the third bedroom being a previous coal depository the size of a small dog kennel. We felt discouraged. But. Stephen and I have both spent that past eleven years as renters, which is a lot of years to spend handing over chunks of money to landlords. And we have very much outgrown our apartment. And we just felt like it was time to get some equity, whatever the H equity is, so we kept looking. Then we found a house we liked. We toured it, made an offer that same day, AND SOMEONE ELSE MADE A HIGHER OFFER THE VERY SAME DAY. Because apparently everyone else in our blessed city is looking for affordable houses that aren't super crappy. So our realtor sent more listings, we found one that looked promising, and we toured it the day it hit the market. We loved it. Three bedrooms with high ceilings all on one floor. A recently updated kitchen, a porch, a master bathroom with TWO SINKS. So we made an offer. One of many things I didn't realize about home buying before this adventure is that houses are like Oakley sunglasses in Tijuana in that the price the seller lists is not the amount they actually expect to get. Except this seller. This seller was in a hurry, so he priced the home at a level he thought would sell quickly, so when we heard that he would only accept list price we said OKAY FINE and made another offer. And just like that, we were home owners. 

There are some quirks to the house. Like, the floor is a different level in every room. The house slants to the right. The basement is a glorified cave containing a washer and dryer. The stairs to the basement are slightly less steep than a sheer drop. The chimney might crumble after a slight breeze. And the yard needs a whole lot of work. But for us, right now, it's perfect. 

We've spent the last month painting, replacing carpet, and making lots of trips to Home Depot which is why you haven't heard from me in a while. Well that and children and work and The Bachelor. We hope to be completely moved in by Saturday, so then maybe life will slow down a little? Probably not. Anyway, as I write this I really should be packing so I better go. But I'll leave you with some photos. 

The exterior:

Our empty living room:

Ivy riding her tricycle on the tricycle-friendly floor. Also, Ollie's bum:

Ivy in her bedroom painted the color she chose:

A not very good photo taken at night of Ramona's bedroom wall color:

New, fresh, carpet. It smells so good.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

May you stay forever young

I woke up at 5 am Sunday morning to use the restroom. As I stood washing my hands, something gushed. 

Let me back up here to explain why this is miraculous. For the last six months Stephen has been planning a major conference for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before my due date. I told him I would do everything I could to keep from going into labor before or during the conference, all the while growing fatter and grouchier and generally more miserable with that blessed final stage of pregnancy. 

At my last doctor's appointment, we decided to induce on Wednesday, February 4. However I told Dr. Lash I really hoped to go into labor before then (see: fat, grouchy, miserable), and that I was actually planning on Sunday. He laughed at me.

So when my water broke 5 hours after Stephen returned home from the conference after-party and right when I told my doctor it would, it was what I consider to be a total flipping miracle.

I woke up my confused and exhausted husband, added a few things to the hospital bag, made Ivy go potty, and headed to drop off our child and dog with Stephen's parents. 

I had a few contractions en route to the hospital, that may have been legitimate or may have been hysterical. I kept wondering if my water really had broken. As much as you think you know your own body, things just get straight up weird in pregnancy and it's hard to ever tell for sure what's going on. Plus having been sent home twice from the hospital before having Ivy made me feel like history was about to repeat itself.

"I think my water broke," I told the nurses at labor and delivery check-in. They asked a few questions then took me to a room where I would either deliver Ramona or be told to pack my things and head home. As the nurse monitored my vitals she asked if I was sick. She said my heart rate was abnormally high. She ran some tests to see if the gush was in fact amniotic fluid. There are three tests. The first two were negative. The third was positive. When the nurse said we could stay, my heart rate immediately dropped to normal. Nerves, man. 

I was given some pitocin to get things rolling. My family soon showed up. I had previously agreed to let my sister, who hopes to be a labor and delivery nurse, be present at the birth. Personally, you couldn't pay me enough to watch someone else give birth, but if that's her thing, then cool. My parents, brother, and sister-in-law were there for moral support before the big show. I think they were surprised by how boring labor really is. "Why are you not yelling or crying in pain?" my dad asked at one point. Because epidural. Bless those drugs. I napped, played Trivia Crack, watch Bob Ross paint a cabin in the woods, and saw the last half of an episode of Law and Order before it was time to push. Well actually it was beyond time to push. Suddenly I went from feeling nothing to feeling yikes, ouch, which apparently was because Ramona was centimeters away from the outside world. But Dr. Lash had not arrived yet. So the nurses pretended not to panic and I kept hitting the happy epidural button, hoping there would be some sort of placebo effect. 

Finally, Dr. Lash arrived looking like he had run from the parking lot. I kicked everyone but Stephen and Hannah out of view, and got to work birthing the baby. It took longer than anticipated because of some pelvic angle something or other, and her shoulder needing some adjusting. But at 4:33, she was here and I heard her cry. 

If I'm being completely honest, going to the hospital Sunday morning, I was more excited by the thought of pregnancy finally being over than I was by the thought of having a new baby. But when I heard that cry, and watched as she was washed and examined, and then when I was finally able to hold her and see her open her eyes for the first time, I fell so completely in love.

Ramona arrived weighing 7 lbs 11 oz and measuring 20 inches long. She came with a full head of dark hair, and her face looked identical to Ivy's when she was born. 

Due to flu season regulations, Ivy was not allowed to visit the hospital (she was having the time of her life with Stephen's parents instead). So it wasn't until we came home Tuesday afternoon that she was finally able to meet the baby sister she'd been hearing so much about. When I walked into our living room holding Ramona, Ivy got a look on her face that seemed to mean "Wait, this is really happening?" and for a while she was scared to get close or say anything. But then five minutes later she was rubbing Ramona's head and telling her stories and asking to hold her over and over and over again. 

We've spent the past few days enjoying Ramona's pleasantness for the twenty minutes she's awake every day.

My pediatrician said something I really liked. He said second babies are always easier. Not necessarily because their personalities or dispositions are actually better than a first child's, but because there's so much less anxiety on the part of the parents. I'm finding that to be absolutely true. With Ivy, I'm afraid I spent her entire first year worrying about my own incompetence as a mother. I've always loved Ivy with a fierce kind of love, I've just had moments where I was unable to truly enjoy being her mom out of fear or just inexperience. 

But I'm calm this time around. Like our family now has a piece we were desperately missing. Things feel more complete and we're just really glad Ramona's here.