Thursday, August 31, 2006

Surgery Update

It is now three weeks and two days after my surgery, and I feel fine. Really, seriously fine. I haven’t even (knock wood!) suffered any major hormonal disruptions. OK, I’ve had a couple of hot flashes, I think — which gives you a good idea of just how minor and manageable they are. I’m amazed.

I’m not sure exactly what made the difference. Some of it is surely that I lost less blood this time. (They weren’t expecting endometriosis during the first surgery, but were well prepared for it this time.) Some of it may be that the anesthesia was perceptibly different. I woke up pretty easily, and felt tired and sleepy, but not that awful queasy heavy-headedness that I’ve always had in the past. (I did have ferocious itching, which I’ve been told was from the morphine drip, except that I had the morphine without itching last time, but, all in all, I’d rather itch!) And I guess some of it must be that there were fewer organs to remove. Whatever the reasons, though, I’m grateful.

I mean, I got to enjoy the 2 weeks my mother spent here. We were able to go out to dinner, to sit around and talk, and to be adults together. She let me babble on about the writing projects (now 4 of them) that I have in my mind, and also took over the yucky stuff like cleaning the cats’ boxes — which may mean that I wasn’t all that adult after all! Nonetheless, it was really, really nice, and I do appreciate it.

And, as I said, I’m feeling good. I still get tired and a little sore if I stay upright too long, but as soon as I lie down, I feel fine. This makes it hard to stay lying down, but luckily the US Open is on, so I have more televised sports to keep me amused. (I swear I saw Maria Sharapova playing in a little black cocktail dress, so maybe I was tireder than I thought....)

While recovering, I have finished my five washrags and a little gray sleeveless shell. The latter has a neat armhole edge treatment, a single line of ribbing two stitches in from the edge, that seems to keep it from turning under: I’ll be using this on other sleeveless items, that’s for sure! Of course, I then sent in a KnitPicks order, which will become a dark blue heather shrug (Wool of the Andes sapphire heather — already cast on and well begun) and a medium teal-y blue vest (Wool of the Andes stream), so it’s not as though my hands are idle. And there’s a pair of socks in progress, too.

(No, the Olympic sweater isn’t finished. Thanks for asking.)

But I do feel good.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Yesterday was Lisa’s birthday. She would have been 48. Lisa loved birthdays, hers, of course, and everyone else’s. She enjoyed all the little things that go with birthdays: cards, flowers, dinner out (OK, that’s not so little), and she tolerated the fact that I just wasn’t as good as those things as she was. (Lisa never forgot anything; my usual birthday cards are found in the “belated” section of the card store.) So, when she was approaching 40, she sat me down and said, “I really, really want a 40th birthday party. A surprise party. At a hall. With Hog Mawl. (a local band, not the food!) Will you do that?”

How could I say no?

So I rented the Elks hall, booked the band (as they were all friends of ours, they made their presense Lisa’s present), arranged for food and a really yummy cake (chocolate chip swirl!), and tried to explain to everyone I invited that Lisa had asked me to throw her a surprise party.

(Typical conversation:

“Lisa asked you to throw her a surprise party?”


“Does she know?”)

It turned out wonderfully. The Elks (whose hall is on Sagamore Creek, with a spectacular view of the water) were a bit bemused at our crowd, who ranged in age from 60+ (my parents, who flew in from Arkansas for the occasion) to under-six (the youngest nephew), and included long-haired hippie-type musicians and a couple of very buttoned up-looking folks who really were librarians, as well as the tallest gay couple I know (the short one is 6’6”!), but by the time the band finished the first set, the Elks were hanging out in the doorway chatting with anyone who’d talk to them and visibly wanting to be let in. By the end of the evening, they’d invited Lisa and me to join. (I’m kind of sorry we didn’t.) We had a champagne toast and 40 candles on the cake, and, as I said, a lovely time was had by all.

I thought a lot about that birthday yesterday, of course. I wasn’t up to partying, but I did want to do something a little special. So I made a Manhattan (one of Lisa’s favorite drinks, and a pleasure to make because I get to play with the cocktail shaker), and got some cheese straws (another of Lisa’s favorites, and mine), and then I drank a toast and put on a silly DVD and made the dog run around and bark by laughing too hard. I think Lisa would have appreciated it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

More Surgery

(Those of you who are squeamish about female reproductive organs should stop reading now.)

As some of you know, I had a hysterectomy last January. At the time, I decided — with my gynecologist’s agreement — to keep the one (apparently) good ovary and the cervix; my plan was to hold out for natural menopause and try to lose some weight/get in shape before it got there. Unfortunately, the surgeons found “severe” endometriosis as well, but the right ovary still seemed to be in good shape, and they left it. I had no pain, no periods, and generally good results for just about a year.

Then, this January, I started having pain again. It was essentially identical in quality to the pain I had before, though not in intensity — which is a good thing, because the pre-hysterectomy pain had me throwing up. (Though that may have been the fibroid that I was apparently trying to deliver. As it was firmly attached to the uterine wall, this was not a pleasant process.) I had tests done, and they confirmed that I did indeed have another large ovarian cyst, with some solid bits in it. In fact, it looked exactly like the left ovary had looked last year, and my gynecologist said she suspected the endometriosis had grown back as well.

Then Lisa’s brain tumor started acting up, and I stopped dealing with the ovary. Really, it only hurt when I lifted something heavy. Like Lisa. Or the groceries. Or the 19-pound cat. Or when I rolled over at night.

Lisa did bully me into making follow-up appointments with the gynecologist, and, after she died, I dutifully went, only to be told that the cyst had grown again, and the solid parts were larger as well. She strongly recommended that I have it out, along with the cervix, all the endometriosis that the surgeon could find, and possibly my appendix as well, to prevent further problems. (There were a lot of adhesions the first time, and the hysterectomy will only have made things worse, so her idea was to do everything possible to be sure “no one else will have to go in there.”) The fact that there was a solid component to the cyst made the surgery somewhat urgent, though given my previous history (hystery?) it’s almost certainly not cancer, just more endometriosis. She referred me to a gynecologist/oncologist at the Lahey Clinic — gyn/oncologists do a lot of endometriosis surgeries even when cancer isn’t suspected, as they have lots of experience in removing little bits of errant tissue — and the upshot is that I’m scheduled for surgery next week.

The day after my birthday.

Which means I spend my birthday doing “bowel prep.”

I am not amused.

Essentially, the surgery and recovery should be pretty much the same as it was for the hysterectomy: a couple of nights in the hospital, then 4 weeks out of work and another couple of weeks of taking things easy. I’m also not supposed to lift anything over 10 pounds for at least 6 weeks, which is going to be amusing since all 4 cats weigh more than that. Last time, Tenzing (the largest, at 19 pounds) figured out that I couldn’t lift him, and promptly settled himself wherever he pleased. As he is largely impervious to being swatted (unless by Trouble, who has claws and will use them), this became an issue. I came very close once to calling Lisa to come home from work to move him because I couldn’t get him off my knees, but he got bored and moved on. Luckily, my mother, who will be staying with me until I’m able to take care of myself, now has a cat of her own, so I feel safe asking her to remove Tenzing. How Tenzing will feel about it is another matter, but I’m not sure I care.

To add to the fun, I will be immediately menopausal. My one faint hope is that, since my reproductive organs have been nothing but trouble for my entire biologically-mature life, their departure will actually be easy. Failing that, I’ve been promised that there are plant-based estrogens that work, but I’m really hoping I won’t need them.

I’m getting to the point where I honestly believe that Galen and the ancient doctors who held that the uterus was an alien organ, not really part of a woman, weren’t misogynists, but actually talked to a few of us. I know I’m quite convinced that all of this mess — uterus, ovaries, and miscellaneous tubes and ducts — is in fact actively hostile. OK, I don’t believe that they move around in the body cavity, at least not much (though the ultrasound techs do seem to have a heck of a time finding my ovaries), but I really don’t feel as though they’re cooperating.