Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Full Report

So....I no longer have a gall bladder.
Will I be less galling?
Or less galled? I guess we'll see.
The surgery was ... well I have no idea. One minute I was on the operating table, there was a mask plunked over my mouth and then I was waking up in the recovery room. They could have been saying horrible things the whole time but I was somewhere else. And I doubt they were because everyone was really fun and really kind. We got a slightly late start, the surgery was an hour and half. I'm not really sure how long my recovery room time was because I was drifting in and out. And then I was home and in my recliner.
In some ways it felt like fast food medicine. In and out. But I was much happier being home than I would have been in the hospital. I slept a lot and I slept better than I would have in the hospital. DeAnna checked on me every day and scrambled me eggs. It was a few days before I could even keep my eyes open long enough to watch a sitcom.
I got a little better every day and now I feel pretty good. I probably didn't need the last two pain pills I took and I have two left over. All my pain is movement and posture related. If I reach too high, or breath too deep, belly laugh, any thing that requires my midsection to move. Sitting up for any length of time wears me out. But I can sit up for longer times every day. I feel like everything is moving along nicely.
I had more trouble with nausea than pain. I ate scrambled eggs and a bagel, potato/leek soup and pear/apple sauce (both of which I'd made pre-surgery) yogurt and cantaloupe every day. There were a few days when the nausea was so bad at about 4 o'clock that I couldn't eat. The only thing worse than
eating was taking a pain pill on an empty stomach so I'd get two spoonfuls of something down but it was not fun.
Then one evening I was OK and I made polenta. It might be one of the meals I've ever had.
I eat really slowly now. Restaurant workers generally eat really fast. Brand new way of being.
I was actually hungry for the first time yesterday. DeAnna got me mac and cheese from Solstice and it was also incredibly good. I'm still a bit worried about food because of the nausea. I think it will be awhile before I know what I can eat but I'm not really that worried.
I also ate some M&Ms yesterday. 12. I counted. I was looking for the magic number that wouldn't hurt.
I don't have an appetite again today but I don't feel bad. Just not hungry.
I have one more doctor's appointment to check my sutures and that's it.
Interesting experience all in all.
But ... not particularly anxious to do it again any time soon.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

And then there was the time...

When I was nineteen I was going to a community college in Maryland and living in a small studio in Washington D.C.. One morning I was getting ready for school and trying to decide if I could wear my new pair of Doctor Scholl's sandals. I was worried about how much walking I needed to do and maybe getting a blister. I decided to go with the work boots so popular for hippie chicks back in the day.
I had just crossed an intersection, looked up and saw a large German Shepard barreling across the yard of the corner house and I realized there was no fence. I thought I'd just step off the curb and walk around him. A small van/truck went by just then and the side view mirror hit my head, knocking me into a spin and my right foot went under the wheel of the truck. If I'd had the sandals on I would probably not have a foot today. The work boot wedged under the wheel. The truck driver stopped and tried to get my foot out from under the wheel but it was stuck. He had to get back in the truck and back up. Pretty freaky.
The event is a blur but I remember a person got out of his car and said he'd seen the whole thing and the dog chased the girl into the street. I imagine he was concerned about the driver who was really blameless. An ambulance came and took me to a hospital. I must have been in pain but I remember joking a lot. You're supposed to have on clean underwear in case you go to the hospital and I wasn't wearing any. I feel like a long time went by. They called my mom and told her to come get me but by the time she got there they had determined I needed surgery because a hole had been scraped in my ankle and there was no easy way to cover it. The surgery involved creating a flap to cover the hole, and taking skin from my thigh to cover where the flap had been. It was a long surgery. At some point I came out of the anesthesia enough to hear the doctors and nurses talking. This may have happened more than once because I think there was a shift change and people were leaving and others were coming in and I think there was some talk about an award show. And then there was the moment when they began to talk about my pretty face and what a shame it was that I was also fat. The anesthesiologist realized I was hearing it and made a face. I remember feeling like I needed to reassure him that I was OK. Memory is a shape shifter so the details of this memory might be off but the feeling is true.
I was in the hospital for a month. I was home with crutches and instructions to keep my foot elevated for a month. I was on crutches for another month. Long recovery and really a break in trajectory. I didn't finish the semester. I was moved out of my studio. I was back in the dreary suburbs with a story about a truck and a dog and some shoes. And a really big scar.
Every day of my life I hear things about fat people. Jokes, false concerns for our health, blame for all the troubles of a broken health care system. Sometimes things are in the background and mostly abstract. It's just noise. Sometimes it's more direct.
I have very positive experience of most of the medical professionals I've met in Hood River. Even the knee surgeon who won't fix my knee because I might stroke out on the surgical table danced around the fact that the only reason to imagine I'd stroke out is my weight. I've had two EKGs in recent history both of which were good. My blood pressure is good. My liver function, my temperature, my activity level, yada yada. All good. The surgeon who will be removing my gall bladder isn't worried. My GP isn't worried.
And really. The truth is. All in all. The idea that someone might say something stupid about my weight is the least of my worries and I'm not really worried. I'm the worried well. Just average worried. Mostly just tired of feeling like crap. And I'm tired of thinking about surgery. Filling out paperwork. Being asked the same health history questions over and over. I'm ready to move on.
But it's a weird thing, isn't it? Just the idea that I will be completely dependent on a group of people and I need them to take care of me. Heal me. And I might have to listen to them say stupid stuff about my body. It's just weird. And wrong.
And that space that I hold in which I feel the need to comfort an anesthesiologist, or make jokes, or just holding the idea that something might be said. It's just weird. It's tedious.
Just the number of stories I have in which something is said to me or about me and my pretty face and shameful size.
It's just wrong.  

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Bird In The House

I just read the article by Zeke Emanuel that was circulating awhile ago. He wants to die at 75 and he makes a really good case for why. Having spent a lot of time in Mom's senior community I can relate. There are people older than Mom still active and engaged with few health problems and people younger in much worse shape, on piles of pills. It seems somewhat random. I suppose genetics and access to health care and individual health histories are all cogs in the machine but how healthy and happy a person is in their older years also seems a bit arbitrary.
Emanuel names a new cultural archetype: the American Immortal. I really like that. Most conversations about health feel distorted and exhausting to me, usually because so many of them are fat hating and fat blaming. In his article he says statistics imply that babies born today will live longer than their parents and in any article about the (cough) obesity epidemic we're all going to die sooner because we're all so fat. And, after all is said and done, there is money being made. There is a market selling immortality.
Leonard Cohen just turned 80 and started smoking again. Maybe. He said he wants to but who knows if he did. It made me really happy. I decided I'd do the same thing except the last time I had a smoke I got a wicked stomach ache. I (like Leonard) think about smoking a lot but I don't like stomach aches.
Both men are really saying the same thing. At a certain point they aren't going to focus on extending their life. They're going to focus on enjoying it.
Mom is 88 and is on no medication. Despite the fact that her fingers look gnarled and she uses a walker she says she has no pain. Every once in awhile a joint is "talking to her." Cute. Last year she had a mole removed and there was a time when we thought she might have melanoma and it might be in her lymph glands. They removed the mole and the melanoma they had found and it seems to have been all there was. I remember they said if she did have it in her lymph glands they wouldn't treat it because of her age. That made sense to me. The treatment could have been so miserable.
Despite her physical heath her mind is very obviously deteriorating. and she knows it. And she hates it. She talks a lot about wanting to "get off this earth". I'm struggling to find a way to turn that around. She has good days. She has everything she needs. But losing metal acuity is so painful.
This morning the guy who gets her groceries came in through the garage and a bird followed him. He and another guy eventually chased it out. When I heard I had an oddly superstitious reaction. A bird in the house means death.
I'm not going to be OK when Mom dies. I'm going be wrecked for a little while. But there are days when she's so unhappy. I wish there was a switch we could flip. I wish she could get into bed and flip a switch.
It wasn't until much later that it occurred to me that that I'm going have surgery and a bird in the house means a death in the family. Gulp. I'm not actually worried about dying. I'm somewhat worried about things getting worse but I don't think I'm any more worried than seems normal. I get jabs and twinges and aches. The pain is never higher than a 6. Mostly just annoying.
I don't have an age that I want to die. I feel like I'm OK with death but if you told me I'd be dead soon I might realize that I'm not at all OK with it. These things are too abstract. And superstition is like a fly that buzzes in your ear now and again.
I've had a bird in my house.
And I'm still here.

Friday, October 03, 2014

I Would Prefer Not To

If you've read Bartleby you will get the joke.
I'll be having my gall bladder removed on the 20th.
The surgeon is really cool. He is very clear and grounded. He said that it is harder to operate on fat people but "that's his problem." He has done this surgery on a 500 pound person. He has done it on an eleven year old person (which kind of freaked me out) and a person in their nineties. He said that there are general truths about who has gall bladder issues but there really isn't a type. Most people are walking around with some gall stones and a few of them will have problems. I think he said 20%.
At any other time of my life I would have asked for time to get acupuncture and drink miso and eat dark green leafy things and try to control it but I've been in some amount of pain and/or discomfort for about fifteen years. I'm tired. And most of the gall bladder stories I hear are middle-of-the-night worst-pain-ever stories. I'd like to avoid that.
The only thing worse than having surgery is knowing you're going to have it for 20 days. I'm pretty grouchy. I am scared but that seems normal. I do have confidence in the surgeon. I feel well cared for and safe in terms of all the medical professionals I've met in Hood River (except that knee guy).
I'm not thinking about writing or what I could write about or anything really. I'm in a sort of stun mode.
I would prefer not to.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Plus Size

Every year The New Yorker does a style issue. The only thing I'm less interested in is sports but I flip through to make sure there's nothing by a writer I like. This year there is a fairly good article about plus size fashion. It's very well written, includes some history of how the perception of fat bodies devolved grabbed from Fat Shame (a book I have not read). It mentions a number of fat fashion bloggers (most of whom I haven't read). And only gives a small nod to the idea that being fat is unhealthy.
"Obesity is a genuine health concern, but the connection between health and the wearing of crop tops is a murky one."
Yes. Murky.
I just hate the flatness of the genuine-health-concern thinking. However, it goes on to say that "people become plus size for all sorts of reasons, not all of which involve life style choices." So, there is some nuance and it gets even more radical by calling out the "health concern" as a way to "police the prevailing social order." 
It ends in a Lane Bryant store with a customer who will "never wear a crop top." It is a sour ending for an otherwise interesting article. It seemed to say that most fat women are going to dress in a conservative manner because ... they should.
I know that the fat revolution is fought on the fields of fashion. I get it. It feels a bit frivolous to me some times but it does matter. Wearing a fatkini is a radical act. Wearing horizontal stripes. Wearing sleeveless shirts. Wearing clothing that is fun and alive and ... pretty. If you're fat you aren't suppose to do any of those things. You're supposed to wear clothing that covers your shame.
Even the term plus size kind of makes my teeth hurt. Adding from what? Normal? And what is that?
I am not interested in fashion but I am aware that I've always worn a uniform.
A wanna be cowgirl uniform.
A hippie chick uniform.
A rock-n-roll uniform.
A lives below 14th street uniform.
A guru girl uniform.
My uniform these days is frighteningly middle aged. Most of the time I'm in simple baggy pants and a simple baggy shirt. Sometimes I wear a nicer shirt. Usually with a flowery pattern. And I will not be wearing a crop top any time soon. Much of this is about age, I suppose. It's also just about comfort and taste. I spend a lot of time in the privacy of my nest in my pajamas. I lean toward gypsy/hippie/arty stuff but ... I don't get out much. I have a hard remembering to put on earrings. It's something I actually work on because I know it matters.
I have a sense that if I were not fat my fashion life might have taken a similar trajectory. Wandering through the uniforms and landing at baggy.
The connection between wearing a crop top and having a deeply internalized sense that my fat body is a whole body with a complex history and not a pathology is murky.
Yes. Murky.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Having a Facebook page for the blog was hopefully going to encourage me to write. And...it sort of did. A little bit. It kicked up that reflex to think of things in terms of writing. But I've been spending a lot of time under a blanket feeling crappy. I see the surgeon on Tuesday. At this point if he says he'll take the gall bladder out I'll say yes. Feeling this bad is exhausting.
So today when Facebook reminded me that I hadn't written in five days I rolled my eyes. I've created a nag. 
I was going to write about living on a highway. Oak street is also highway 30. You can drive on highway 84, which becomes (I think) highway 30 at some point and miss the downtown crowds but great big trucks are always driving past. Trucks bigger than the nest. Trucks with logs. Trucks with gravel. During the summer there is also a lot of tourist traffic. Parking becomes impossible. Because I have my door open most of the time the smell of traffic can be overwhelming and ... yucky. And noisy. First thing in the morning, before the traffic starts, I open the door, lean out and take a deep breath. Last thing at night I do the same thing. Hood River smells like forest. And it's quiet. 
I was going to write about wanting this waterproof iPod. Yet another gadget, which is not terribly expensive but costs enough to hesitate and think about if I really want it. I like having my ears open. Sometimes I talk to other swimmers. Mostly I just like the awareness of sound. I like music too and it might be fun to have music in my ears while I swim. But music can shift my mood really quickly. One overwrought romantic song and I might crash. 
I thought I might be able to wind those two things together and write about all five senses but ...eh. 
I was going to write about waking up on Sunday and being very excited to play with my Sims but the game wouldn't load. There's a bug that messes up the launcher from time to time. I really like playing on Sunday because there's lots of news talk to play in the background. I got cranky for a few minutes and then ... I opened my book and began to rewrite. I worked on it all day. It was extremely fun. I want to rewrite and then self publish.
Then I started feeling bad.
David Mitchel was recently quoted on writing.

I haven't read him yet.
I've been trying not to rush to my screen. I've been trying to start the day. Eat some eggs. Drink some coffee. Truth be told, I check my phone first thing but then I really have been trying to wait before I'm in front of the endless stream. On Sunday I wrote for a while and then I cleaned and then wrote some more. It worked.
Today the pain and nausea levels are low enough. I'm starting to want my blanket but I'm good for a bit more.
The page has 40 followers. It was at 39 for a long time. I prefer round numbers. I've sent invites to people who just don't seem to see them. Ironically two of them have asked me to follow their pages. Oh but what ever. It's all a bit silly.
I joined ello.
It's very spartan. Which is fine.
And then there's the bug. There used to be a toggle at the top of the Facebook page. I could choose to post as myself or the page. If I had it set to post as the page and I used the post-as-the-page setting in Blogger my post went straight to the page. Now the toggle is in each individual post and doesn't work with Blogger. I tried once and the post appeared briefly in the feed but not on the page. I figured out how to work around it but ...sigh.
I guess the good news is that I am writing a wee bit more. Now, if I can write a wee bit better.

Friday, September 19, 2014


Recently there was a commercial for the iPhone in which a woman is swimming and then taking something off her suit and putting it on her phone to record how her swim had gone. I wanted it right away.
It's 100 dollars. Nothing if you have disposable income. I don't. And more to the point there wouldn't be much data gathered. I swim back and forth. I swim forward and then back wards. I do a few side strokes. I hold onto the side of the pool and kick really fast a few times. I swim for an hour. That's it. I usually get out because I need to pee. People always congratulate me for "keeping it up". They don't understand how much I love it. If there was a pool right outside my door I'd be in it several times a day. But I'm not trying to be a great swimmer. I'm just enjoying being able to move with less pain than I have when I'm walking.
Generally speaking I am not in favor of all the new fitness tracking devices. Paul wrote about it recently and David Sedaris wrote a funny piece about his Fitbit. They both talk about the obsession with numbers. I am data curious and have fun with things for awhile but I always get out of control and obsessed.
When I was working on the junk room I found some old diary pages from the time when I'd been given the assignment to track my food for a biology class. I actually enjoyed it for a time. I eat around 2000 calories a day give or take. More if I eat out. More if it's a holiday. Reading through those pages I saw that not much has changed. I enjoyed doing but eventually I started worrying about it. I'd eat a cookie and not write it down. I had elaborate and loopy reasons for why not. Or I'd eat two cookies and write down one. My inner diet food cop rose up and and my inner shame about wanting a cookie (wanting a cookie) (shame) (sheesh) rose up and they did battle. What a waste of time.
I enjoy being weighed at the doctor because it's interesting to me to know exactly how much I weigh. But if I buy a scale I'm on it twice a day. I start eating less and then eat too much in rebellion. Not at all useful.
Our definition of heath is important. Numbers tend to over simplify. And for some of us numbers create obsession.  
I'm thinking about this today because I updated my iPhone and got their new "health" app. I jumped right in trying to enter data. I can't figure out how to enter some basic info, which may be because it's designed to get that information from other apps. They give you this free thing and then sell you a bunch of new apps. Ah. Capitalism.
I'm always amused by yoga in this country. People have been doing yoga almost naked in the wilderness for years. Now yoga has it's own magazine, special bags for special mats, clothes, music, straps and blocks and videos and on and on. I own a strap and some blocks and a video so I'm not above the market. I'm just ... chagrined. Or something.
The swim tracker thing also tracks your sleep.
Oh man.
I might need that.