Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pre-Surgery Jitters

Note: This post was imported from the original blog this site is based on. It is a personal account of my experience and is not very relevant to the current website. I have kept it out of respect to the journey that led me here. 

In less than four hours I am heading off to the hospital for my laparoscopy for removal of endometrial implants, adhesions, a bilateral uterosacral nerve ablation, and possible removal of my right ovary. And the idea of 'resting before the big day' is laughable. I am tired, and few times I've almost drifted off to sleep, but then I remember something I need to do and I'm up.

Probably because this is it's last day to torment me, but my endometriosis pains have been awful today. Cramping, stinging, stabbing, tremors-down-the-legs awful. It's like it needs to get in all it's last moments before it's cleaned out. Luckily I have had some awesome friends to distract me from it all.

My old friend Jane* and I have been reconnecting these past few weeks and she came over for the whole evening. She was patient while I wandered aimlessly in my bedroom, trying to finish last minute cleaning and organizing so I don't have to stare at a messy room I can't clean while I'm recovering. And after we convinced myself to leave it be, we made savory salmon crepes (crepes with cream cheese, arugula, and smoked salmon--let me know if you want directions!) that were absolutely delicious. We wanted to get in some henna tattooing time, but thanks to my out-of-it, ADHD behavior, we ran out of time. But we still got to talk-talk-talk the whole time and it was a lot of fun!

Next I talked to my lovely but tired boyfriend Josh*. With the time difference between states, it was already almost one-o-clock by the time we connected. But we chatted for about thirty minutes and he gave me great advice for calming myself for the surgery today. I could share it... but I also don't care for broadcasting the details of my conversations on my blog :).

After we hung up, I was alone and I couldn't get over the anxiety coming from a combination of horrendous pain in my gut and anticipation for the surgery. Luck was on my side however, because I soon bumped into my good, old friend Dave* on Facebook. First he offered to drive two hours to come keep me company until I could fall asleep, so I wouldn't have to be alone and in pain the night before my surgery. But upon finding his gas tank near empty and local gas stations closed (remember in Oregon it's illegal to pump your own gas), his trip was canceled. To compensate for the loss of a visitor, we chatted on Facebook and then the phone for 2 1/2 hours.

Some great friends have really come through for me at various times during this experience. If anything, I wish I had a few more friends because I refuse to take up the same friends free time over and over again to satisfy my need for support! But the ones who have come through, please know how grateful I am! My friends have done such a great job of distracting me tonight, and I'm appreciative. I needed it. Because now that I've been left to my own devices, at 4:20 am, the pain is back and I am doing everything I can not to worry about my surgery. Everything logical tells me I am excited for this. I will finally be stopping the pain, pain I've had badly for almost a year now! My doctor said I should feel better even IMMEDIATELY after the surgery, because even though I'll be cut up, I won't have adhesions tugging on my body. I try to imagine what that might be like, but I honestly cannot. But I think it will be pretty amazing.

Problem is, that no matter how necessary a surgery is, no matter how great it will make you feel or how life changing it might be (and at this point now this surgery will be life changing for me--at least drastically changing how my life has been these past few months), no matter how much you want and need it, it is still scary. And it does not matter how many you've had or whether you're an adult or child. Going into surgery is scary. This will be my third recent procedure I've had. Two years ago I had major shoulder surgery, one year ago I had a laparoscopy for a 7 cm cyst and ended up having my appendix removed (chronic appendicitus is more common in women with endometriosis), and today I am having a laparoscopy for severe abdominal pain due to endometriosis. I've had complex MRIs and CAT scans. I've had a sigmoidoscopy and a colonoscopy. By now I should be a seasoned OR traveler. But I am not looking forward to having those IVs hooked up to me and being wheeled into that OR. I don't like that I won't know what they'll find till after the fact. I feel frustrated that I won't know if I'll lose my ovary until after. And being put under makes me nervous, because a small part of me is worried I won't wake up.

But a combination of writing this now and advice from friends and myself is helping me get by. Writing about what is happening is therapeutic. Of course I love that I am informing people of what's going on. Whether it's family/friends checking in on me, or a stranger who might gain some valuable tidbits for themselves or a friend who is suffering from one of these diseases. But it is also therapeutic in that I am able to sort through what is happening and how I feel about it. Not to mention that I absolutely love writing and having something interesting to write about, that people may want to read--it's very satisfying.

But onto the advice. I was reminded tonight first not to worry about the things I can't control. It's true that there are risks with surgery. But when I've reached a point that surgery is my only option for a chance at a normal quality of life, I have reached a dead-end point where the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. And my family and I have gone lengths to get me a great and experienced doctor, a surgery at a capable hospital, and we can afford all the precautions to ensure my safety. I am healthy enough now, have overcome the inflammation with ulcerative colitis, that surgery is a safe option. I've done all I can. And worrying about the 'what ifs' is not going to do me any good. And as for my own advice--after a friend commented on my ability to remain positive through all the disasters that have occurred, I first confessed that I am not always so positive. I have my down moments. But I generally try to remain positive. And without thinking much, I said, "You can choose to be upset or you can choose to be positive, but either way, s#*! is going to happen. But you get to choose how you handle it."

This surgery is going to happen. It needs to happen. And though it is very difficult to chose not to be nervous, I am going to try my very best to instead be excited. I am excited to be normal again and not be in pain 24/7. So I am thus excited to be cut up this morning. Things will go well, and everyone will see my elated post reporting good news either this evening or tomorrow morning. Please wish me luck and keep me in your prayers--Ash

*I did not have time to ask permission to speak about my friends, so I changed their names to protect their privacy

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Funny Dogs

Note: This is an old post that was imported from the original 'blog' this site was based upon. It is not a referenced post nor is it up to date, regarding my review of animal benefits on physical and mental health. I am leaving it up for now, but it shall be replaced with a properly cited page. Thank you for your patience and support.

I wasn't forcing her into the picture... I was trying to stop her licking me!

Did you know that dogs are the perfect medicine for someone who is chronically ill? That they have been shown to help lower blood pressure, stress hormones, heart and lung pressure, and epinephrine. The have a calming effect on people. And they make a great distraction from pain.

I'm not sure if my dogs always have a calming effect on me. They certainly don't when they get into my trash, eat my underwear, or knock my laptop on the floor, then run out of the room panicked with my power cord wrapped around their ankles. Sometimes my dogs make me want to tear my hair out. They leave little black and brown hairs everywhere. Stuck into the corners and every surface in my room. But when I'm back at school, and I occasionally find those little black and brown hairs, they make me smile and wish I could trade anything to have those mutts back.

For those of you who don't know, I have three dogs. Two labradors and a dachshund. The biggest is Kona, a slightly overweight, overlumbering, and over affectionate chocolate lab that belongs to my mother. We bought her from a place that we later found out was a puppy mill. I can't believe we were duped, but she's such a nice dog. She's slightly inbred but despite seeming like a numbskull, she's very bright when it comes to certain things. For example, she can undo almost any zipper to get into a bag containing food.

Next one is little bear, our runt chocolate lab Berkeley. I call her little bear because not only do her looks remind me of one, but she makes this grunting noise that sounds exactly like a quiet bear growl. Berkeley belongs to my sister Meghan, but she usually lives somewhere that doesn't allow dogs, so she lives with my Mum. Good thing too, because she loves Kona so much, and Kona would be devastated if she left. The most important thing to know about Berkeley is that that dog will fetch until she dies. She picks up a tennis ball and flicks her head so she throws it at you. Over and over again, begging you with the saddest eyes in the world to throw it.

The third and final is Otto. A small little dachshund (aka wiener-dog) that has been completely devoted to me for eleven years. We got him for my Mum for a birthday present but he's always been mine--I didn't choose him but he sure chose me. I always wanted a big dog and that's the kind I begged for. I remember as an 11 year old, throwing a tantrum for a big dog. But we got Otto, and he's not like any dog we've ever had. He's not like an annoying little lap dog that yips all the time and is scared of everything or an ankle biter. He's fearless, runs around the house like a maniac, forgets that he is 11 years old constantly, plays with the big dogs, and growls at my boyfriend when he even tries to hug me.

These dogs have been wonderful these past few months. People have been great and come visit me when they can. But there are 24 hours in a day and visits only cover so many of them. Some days no one is available to come play with me. Talk to me and distract me from what's happening. And these dogs keep my attention.

On days when I couldn't leave bed, they piled in with me. And on better days when I was able to escape, I'd put some books in my back pack, try to remember my phone, and slowly walk up to the school a few blocks up the road with one of these animals. When I take Otto, I unclip his leash and he gets this crazy look on his face before he jets off through the grass like some sort of rabbit-dog. He's so short that when the mower hasn't been through in a while, the grass comes half-way up his body and he has to jump and bound through it. And it makes me laugh just thinking about it. When I take Berkeley, we take her ball. I'll admit it hurts a little each and every time I throw that ball. And it hurts a little more with each throw. But she is such an enthusiastic and thrilled fetcher, I can't bring myself to stop. I throw until she can't move, and then a few times more.

The great thing about having dogs when you're sick, is not only do they provide extremely entertaining distraction, but they are these loving, emotion-filled beings that love you unconditionally, and it's like they try to love you back to health. People who have never had dogs sometimes try to tell you that they are primal animals that are incapable of emotion. And I know that's not true.

My dogs display many emotions. The funniest of which being jealousy--they are constantly enraged when one gets something that they don't. Sometimes the big ones will tear up little Otto's toys because he got to sleep in the bed. Kona always knocks the other dogs out of the way to get attention. Berkeley throws full on temper tantrums (barking and growling, turning in circles, sometimes biting the other dogs) when we tell her she can't come somewhere with us and shut the door on her. And Otto shred some of my clothing the other day after I told him he couldn't come cuddle with Anj and I.

But they also show a lot of love. On a night where I just couldn't take anymore, I was sitting in the kitchen crying my eyes out, and Kona wandered in. She stared at me with her big almond eyes for a moment, before sitting and leaning against me. I wrapped my arms around that pillsbury, buried my face in her fur, and cried and cried. And she waited patiently. On another occasion, many occasions actually, whenever I've been upset but shut my door, I'll open it and find three concerned, furry bodies piled up against it, waiting to see if I'm okay.

People have played important roles in my recovery and friends have been irreplaceable in cheering me up when I'm feeling down. But I would be down much more often without these wonderful dogs. They make me laugh so much it hurts sometimes (literally). I'm smirking right now because i can hear a couple snorers on the couch across the room. I even can't help but laugh when I have to get up to gently wake up one of them because they're having a 'dog-mare' (when they start whining and crying, running in place, kicking there legs out to the side as they're sleeping).

I know why having dogs is such a therapeutic tool. Whether you're having a bad day, have cancer, or are dealing with a couple of chronic illnesses that cause chronic pain. Dogs love you as much as their furry hearts can love. You can shout at them, kick them out, get angry at them because they got in the trash, and all they want to do is convince you to love them again (which of course you do but they don't know that). The meaning of their lives is in playing and making people happy. It would be impossible for an animal like that not to make you happy and make illness a little more tolerable. It does for me.

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About The BedRiddenHead

I want to be happy. And this site is about that chance. How to strive to thrive in the body I've got and maybe turn my experiences into something worthwhile.

This site aims to help educate and reach out to people all over that struggle with pain or illness. To try and make something helpful. I work as a medical research writer, my background is in neuropsychology and biology, and I want to share what I learn in a way that is easy to understand. I am not a doctor. I'm definitely not your doctor. I am just some lady who wants to make someone's (anyone's) life a little bit better. Whether you have endometriosis, a chronic injury, a struggling friend, or just want to learn something new, I hope to make a place that has what you are looking for.

Thank you for stopping by, I wish you strength in your health and happiness.